North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife made her first public appearance in two months this week, amid speculation that she may be pregnant or may have been chastised by state elders for inappropriate conduct.
According to Reuters, Ri Sol-ju was spotted attending a musical concert with her husband on Monday. Their appearance at the concert "drew a thunderous cheer from the audience," the official KCNA news agency said.
The concert, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports, had been organized in celebration of Kim Il-sung Military University's 60th anniversary.
Ri, 23, has been conspicuous in her absence from public events since early September. South Korea's intelligence agency has suggested that the woman had been kept at home as a disciplinary measure by state elders, who may have taken issue with her "casual and cheerful demeanor."
Others have speculated that the leader's wife has been kept out of the limelight because she is pregnant.
"The analysis has been that there was concern over breach of discipline (by Ri) among North Korean elders, plus the speculation of pregnancy," South Korea's National Intelligence Service reported in a closed-door briefing to parliament, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
Agence France-Presse reports that Ri may have also been "doing penance for failing to wear the lapel pin -- bearing the image of one or both of the country's late leaders -- that all adult North Koreans are required to wear."
Ri was first introduced to the world as Kim's wife in July 2012, when her "marital status was confirmed almost as an afterthought by state TV in an understated report…about the opening of the amusement park".
"As a welcoming song resonated, dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of our party and people, appeared at the inauguration ceremony together with his wife, comrade Ri Sol Ju."
With that sparse description, the typically close-lipped North Korean government revealed to the world that the mystery woman seen beside Kim at public events over the last several weeks was indeed his wife, as had been speculated. No details were given, but South Korean media reports said she is a former singer and cheer squad member and that they married in 2009.
Though North Korea's state media has yet to disclose when the couple got married and whether they have any children, intelligence reports cited by South Korean media indicate that the Kims already have one child, AFP writes.
According to the Korean Yonhap news agency, Ri had "often been spotted accompanying her husband on inspection trips across the country" before she disappeared two months ago.