North Korean media spotlight Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju

SEOUL, April 15 (UPI) — North Korean media appears to be attempting to raise the profile of Ri Sol Ju, the wife of regime leader Kim Jong Un.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Ri, without her husband, had attended a performance of Giselle, staged by the visiting National Ballet of China.

The event was held at the Mansudae Theatre in Pyongyang on Saturday, as part of the North’s April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which marks the birth of regime founder Kim Il Sung.

For the first time, Ri was referred to as the “revered first lady Ri Sol Ju,” instead of “comrade Ri Sol Ju,” Yonhap reported.

The report also spotlighted her activities, although she was accompanied by high-ranking regime officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, Ri Su-yong and Kim Yong-chol, as well as her sister-in-law Kim Yo Jong.

They were referred to as “comrades,” in the article.

Ri reportedly greeted the Chinese performers to congratulate them on their performance as well as Beijing official Song Tao, who led the delegation.

Observers say the North have been attempting to convey the image of a “normal, legitimate state” to the international community, by presenting Kim Jong Un and his wife as the regime’s “first couple.”

Last month, Ri accompanied her husband on his sudden trip to China, where she gained significant media attention for her appearance and fashion.

Japanese media also reported that Ri had referred to Kim Jong Un as “my husband” in a meal with South Korean envoys, earlier in March, which was considered a rare move, given the rigid formality surrounding Kim’s title in North Korea.

A former singer at a prominent orchestra in the North, Ri is presumed to be 28 years old and have three children with the North Korean leader. KCNA first introduced her as Kim’s wife in July 2012, but media coverage on her has been limited.