Ri Sol-ju, the 32-year old wife of the North Korean head of state Kim Jong-un, has seemingly disappeared from the public eye for over a year, the Daily Star reports, citing NK News.
According to the newspaper, Ri's last appearance in North Korean state media was on 25 January 2020, when she attended a Lunar New Year performance at a theatre in Pyongyang together with her husband.
While the reasons for Ri to allegedly keep a low profile for so long are not immediately clear, Hong Min, director of the North Korean research division at Korea Institute for National Unification, suggested that it may be related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"[Her disappearance] could be due to Covid-19 … As a mother with young children, participating in public activities risks potential infection", he remarked. "Even Kim Jong-un went on the lowest number of on-site guidances in the past year."
Ri Sol-ju reportedly married Kim Jong-un in 2009, though she was identified by North Korea's state media as his wife only in 2012.
The newspaper also notes that Ri is believed to have three children with Kim, though “this has never been confirmed by North Korea”, with the kids' birth being reported by sources such as South Korean intelligence and ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman.
In 2020, Kim Jong-un himself disappeared several times from view, sparking speculations about his health and well-being.
These speculations, however, turned out to be short-lived due to the North Korean head of state's subsequent reemergence at several events across the country.