SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol Ju, appeared in state media for the first time in nearly five months on Wednesday (Feb 2), as the ruling family has maintained a low profile during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim and Ri attended an art performance at the Mansudae Art Theatre in the capital Pyongyang celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday, the official KCNA news agency said.
She was last seen publicly on Sep 9 ,when she joined her husband in visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed bodies of Kim's late grandfather and father, on the anniversary of the country's founding.
"When (Kim) appeared at the auditorium of the theatre with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, amid the playing of the welcome music, the audience raised stormy cheers of 'Hurrah!'" KCNA said, adding the couple took the stage after the show to shake hands and take a photo with the artists.
Ri had once garnered international attention as she often accompanied Kim on social, business and even military outings, in a stark break from his father, Kim Jong Il, who was rarely seen in public with any of his wives.
She had disappeared from state media for more than a year before being seen attending a concert last February, fuelling speculation over her health and potential pregnancy.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that she apparently refrained from outside activities to prevent COVID-19 infections but was "playing well with their kids".
The spy agency believes Kim and Ri have three children, but little is publicly known about them.
North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 outbreaks, but closed its borders and taken strict curbs including travel restrictions.