Did North Korean Propagandists “Announce” Ri Sol Ju’s Pregnancy in September?

December 19th, 2012

The latest pictures released by KCNA show that Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju looks almost certainly to be pregnant. Confirming months of speculation on the issue, the development suggests that Kim IV might well be on his or her way to making an appearance sometime in early to mid-2013.

But as eagle-eyed analyst Roger Cavazos points out, in September were North Korean propagandists doing their best to introduce the idea of her pregnancy both to the general public and elites of the country? Perhaps.

Rewind to pictures from an appearance that Kim Jong Un made in early September, when he and Ri were visiting families that had just moved into new apartments in Changjon Street.

The first photo of the event is  fairly innocuous – showing a young boy sandwiched between Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju while the child’s parents look on.

However, the next picture gets a bit more interesting. It show’s Kim and Ri at a different apartment, but Ri is strategically located right below a picture of Kim Jong Suk (circled in red) – the mother of Kim Jong Il.

The final picture seems to make clear what the propagandists are trying to tell us. Kim and Ri are again at a another new apartment, and this time Ri sits below a scroll which reads 어머니- the Korean word for mother (circled in red).

Of course, it can be argued that perhaps this is all coincidental, but as any student of North Korean propaganda knows, these are extremely carefully staged events – even more so when it involves the Supreme Leader. A much more likely scenario is that the North is confirming to elites that the “first lady” is indeed pregnant.

Interestingly, this was one of only two appearances made by Ri on September 7th – after which she disappeared from public view until October 29th. This subtle announcement of Ri’s pregnancy may have been intended to head off rumors that she had been punished from making appearances in North Korea, just as they had began to spread in international media in October.

Another interesting possibility, although far more speculative, is that the first photo is supposed to convey that Ri is not only pregnant, but pregnant with a boy. Some international media have already been discussing the possibility that this baby, if it is a boy, will be the next heir to Kim Jong Un.

Whatever the case, Ri’s increasing size almost certainly points to a pregnancy. Whether or not Kim Junior will share the same birthdate as the future offspring of Prince William and Kate is yet to be seen.