Strict Rules Kim Jong-un Makes His Wife Follow
North Korea is strange, especially its leader and the rules he makes his wife follow. Let's find out the strict rules Kim Jong-Un makes his wife follow.Society
Have you ever heard the name Ri Sol Ju before? Well, almost no one else has either. Despite being the wife of one of the world's most renowned and feared leaders, Kim Jong Un, almost nothing is known about her. And there’s a reason for that.
As Party Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un rules over his country with an iron fist, and his wife is no exception. So, let’s explore some of the strict rules Kim Jong Un makes his wife follow.
Stepping into the spotlight arm-in-arm with one of the most secretive rulers of modern society means you have to make a few changes to fit in. But for Ri Sol Ju, that change was a completely new identity, starting with her name.
Analysts theorize that the name Ri Sol Ju is a pseudonym, in order to prevent knowledge about family ties or any other critical information escaping the vice grip of North Korean intelligence.
It wouldn’t be the first time; Kim Jong Un’s mother Ko Yong Hui, who was never introduced to the public, was once identified in an official documentary called The Mother of the Great Military-First Korea as Ri Un Sil. So maybe changing your name is the name of the North Korean game?
From Cheerleader To First Lady
As part of North Korea's elite, Ri Sol Ju is expected to represent the country's very best side to both its people and the rest of the world. So, in a country that favors military prowess, having a background as a popular entertainer isn’t something you’d be allowed to shout about.
Believe it or not, Ri Sol Ju was once a cheerleader as part of the North Korean Youth Student Co-Operation Group, as you can see in a photo taken in 2005.
She was able to travel to places in China to perform and support the national North Korean team in a highly synchronized, all-female cheering squad. She was also an accomplished singer in the Unhasu Orchestra and is believed to have studied singing in China, as well as performing in South Korea.
It’s thought that she and Kim Jon Un met after she caught his eye during a special performance, but despite their mutual love of music, it’s not a fact he wants to world to know about his blushing bride. Another report claims that nine musicians of the Unhasu Orchestra were executed following a scandal to prevent any link back to Ri Sol Ju, which was confirmed by South Korea's Former Spy Chief.
In Korean culture, the announcement of pregnancy relinquishes most mothers-to-be of many duties. You’re not supposed to work at all, and even light exercise is frowned upon. But for the next Great Mother of North Korea, that’s taken to a new extreme.
Ri Sol Ju vanishes from the public eye for months at a time without any explanation, which is speculated to be linked to pregnancies. On several occasions, it was believed she’d gotten on Kim Jong Un’s bad side and was being punished by confinement.
The following video was scrutinized by analysts after Ri made her first appearance in 50 days at the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death in 2012; a mandatory event for all senior officials.
Her figure is certainly more "pronounced" than it was back in June 2011. Then in March 2013, former NBA basketball player (and, weirdly, close friend of Kim Jong Un) Dennis Rodman confirmed he had met the couple’s new baby who was a girl called Ju Ae. But speculations based on this report Ri also gave birth to a baby in 2010, and another around February 2017 following an absence of 7 months, although neither has been confirmed.
These enforced confinements from the outside world probably have multiple purposes, like protecting the Party’s pristine image by keeping Kim Jong Un’s life a secret from the rest of the world.
Kim Jong-Un Children
You probably noticed that North Korea has been ruled by the same family for three generations. That’s not a coincidence, that’s the law! The Kim Dynasty works to a governance standard called "The Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideology System" which states that the party must be represented eternally by the Baekdu Bloodline.
No prizes for guessing what bloodline that refers to, or which family introduced it into common law once they were in charge. Basically, the leadership of the country can only be passed to a member of the Kim clan. And that member must be a boy. So, the duty of producing a fourth-generation ruler of North Korea falls heavily on the shoulders of Ri Sol-Ju.
Now it’s believed that both her children from 2013 and 2017 are girls. Korean families typically only have two children, so even though Ri’s first child from 2010 is vaguely rumored to be a boy, the third one might have been an attempt to ensure her favor stands with Kim Jong Un.
Just because she’s his wife doesn’t mean that falling out of favor doesn’t have consequences for her family. It could result in the same fate as his own brother Kim Jong Nam, who is widely suspected of having been assassinated by the Party in 2017, or his uncle Jang Song-Thaek who was executed on his order in 2013. Blood may be thicker than water, but it turns out communism is thicker than anything!
Although adultery and polygamy are technically outlawed in North Korea, it's not uncommon for heads of state to take on mistresses. So, if Ri can’t produce an heir, she wouldn’t be able to stop her husband from shopping around elsewhere.
Kim Jong Un himself is the child of one of his father’s many consorts. It's not just the production of an heir that is important to the party leader, but the right heir. It might surprise you to learn that Kim Jong Un wasn’t the oldest of his brothers when he was declared Kim Jong Il’s successor, but he was deemed most appropriate.
The title passed over the heads of both his elder brothers Kim Jong Chol and Kim Jong Nam, neither of whom was fathered by any of his multiple wives or considered strong enough to rule the Party.
What’s really interesting, is that an old flame of Kim Jong Un, Hyon Song Wol, was recently elevated to a member of the central committee of the Workers Party. She’s even accompanied Kim to China on supposed business trips. Business trips. Is that what they call it these days?
If we’re following the law where it's fine for Kim to flaunt the rules of monogamous marriage, it may be impossible for Ri Sol-Ju to ever be granted a divorce. That is, if ever she grew the magnificent set of stones it would require to ask for one.
North Korea’s family law specifies that divorces may be granted only in cases of adultery, but not for irreconcilable differences or even evidence of domestic violence. But we’ve established adultery doesn’t apply to the top-ranking members of the Kim dynasty. So, the ball is firmly in Kim’s court. If anything, it’s a ball and chain!
Marriage isn’t always about love; sometimes it’s about strengthening your own political position. It's a common practice in the Kim dynasty, with Kim Il Sung handpicking all the potential wives of his son Kim Jong Il before arranging all his marriages. And it’s thought that Ri Sol Ju may have had the same fate.
It’s believed the marriage was arranged in 2009 after the country's then-leader Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke in 2008. Sensing his death was imminent, it's likely he chose Ri Sol Ju as a partner for Kim Jong Un based on her family history.
It’s possible that she is related to Ri Pyong Chol, a former member of the army and dedicated party member who has enjoyed suspiciously significant elevation within the political scene since the two were married. So even after the two met, it doesn’t seem like she’d have had any option but to accept the proposal.
Despite being the first lady, Ri Sol Ju isn’t the most powerful woman in North Korea. That title falls to her sister-in-law, Kim Yo Jong. She’s the youngest of all her siblings, but also the most ruthless making her perfect for the role of Vice Director of Propaganda.
Kim Yo Jong is a trusted advisor to Kim Jong Un and is even thought to be in charge of who has access to her brother, what they say to him, and what documents he receives. In comparison to the granddaughter of the Kim dynasty’s eternal leader, Ri Sol Ju is basically a commoner and must pay the utmost respect to her sister-in-law.
Currently, reports suggest the two are friendly and combine their influences to improve Kim’s political appearance around the world. But everything Ri Sol Ju does, wears, and presents when in public has the propaganda princess pulling her strings in the background.
First ladies of state can be easily spotted on news sites or social media promoting their businesses or doing work for a good cause. However, don’t expect that from Ri Sol Ju; and not just because the country doesn’t allow the internet, let alone social media. Ri can only appear in public if she is with Kim Jong Un.
Since she was publicly named as Kim Jong Un’s wife in 2011, there have been no photos or footage released of her on her own at any kind of function. Analysts believe her public appearances are curated to improve Kim Jong Un’s image to one that is fun and father-like without stealing his spotlight. That makes sense seeing as previous leaders were referred to as "Beloved Father" and "Father of the nation" yet their wives were rarely, if ever, mentioned.
It’s also known that photos released from North Korea are screened thoroughly, with all photographers having photos deleted of images the Party doesn’t want the rest of the world to see. So, the handful of photos showing Ri Sol Ju have been released for a specific reason, reducing her role in the Kim dynasty to a living propaganda accessory.
The style and publicity of powerful wives of state can make them historic icons; Jackie O was a 1960s fashion phenomenon, and Kate Middleton is a conservative dream come true. But in North Korea, style has a much deeper meaning.
The Party has cracked down fiercely against any influence of Westernization for decades, to the point where dress codes are enforced up and down the nation by actual police. But Ri Sol Ju appears to be breaking the rules. She wears clear-cut imitations of Western conservative styles and has been spotted with expensive designer handbags from luxury brands like Channel and Dior.
The broaches she sports take the place on her lapel where the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il badge is usually placed. Here’s a terrifying fact, North Korean law states all citizens above the age of 16 must wear the badge whenever they leave the house, so to wear anything other than this puts her at huge risk of falling foul of her husband.
But according to analysts, this is just another level of propaganda. Ri Sol Ju’s expensive style is carefully curated by Kim Jong Un’s propaganda department, in an attempt to show the world that the standard of living in North Korea has improved. But it doesn’t end there; from this photograph from her time in the Unhasu Orchestra in 2010 to her appearance as his official wife in 2013 she’s clearly been made to have her teeth fixed.
That’s a pretty strong image to present for a country where toothpaste is too expensive for most of its residents to buy! But let’s be fair, dental hygiene is the least of this country’s problems.
If you were amazed at these strict rules Kim Jong-un makes his wife follow, you might want to explore all of our North Korean facts. Thanks for reading!