North Korea's Ri Sol Ju makes first public appearance in 4 months

UPI 3 weeks ago

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju made her first public appearance in four months at Mount Kumgang, during Kim Jong Un's inspection of a resort.

Ri, who appeared alongside Kim in the photograph, wearing a half-ponytail and navy blue trench coat, did not face the camera but appeared to be smiling in the photograph published in Pyongyang's Rodong Sinmun on Wednesday.

The North Korean first lady last appeared publicly in June, during Chinese President Xi Jinping's first visit to Pyongyang.

North Korean state media included Ri's photograph but did not include her in the list of senior officials who accompanied the North Korean leader to Mount Kumgang.

The group included Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's younger sister, and Hyon Song Wol, the leader of North Korea's all-women Moranbong Band. Both women visited the South in 2018, during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Ri has receded from public life in 2019 as tensions have returned to the Korean Peninsula. In 2018, Ri became more visible during her husband's factory visits, and was most publicly visible at concerts or ceremonies to remember deceased North Korean leaders. Last year, Ri's title changed from "madame" to "comrade," which drew speculation in the South her role was changing.

Ri also played an important role in hosting her South Korean counterpart, Kim Jung-sook, during an inter-Korea summit in Pyongyang last year.

Mount Kumgang is a UNESCO listed site that includes a biosphere reserve.

North Korea propaganda service So Kwang said Tuesday the regime's Kim Chaek University of Technology has developed a forestry resource management software to preserve the country's forests.

The program, which can be downloaded to North Korean computers and mobile devices, is being introduced to more than 200 forest management units across the country, according to So Kwang.

Kim Jong Un has stressed economic development in his public statements this year.


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