Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has not been seen in public for nearly four months, according to the NK News leadership tracker.
The disappearance is her longest recorded absence from state media, though she was not seen for more than 90 days last year.
“As of April 8, Ri has been out of public view for 111 days with no mention of her or any hint as to why,” said NK News military analyst John Grisafi, who tracks North Korea’s leadership.
“Long absences by Ri are not unusual. The current is her 10th absence of 40 days or more. This is however, the longest yet, with her 91-day absence from June 7 to September 4, 2014 being the previous record.”
Despite numerous appearances with Kim Jong Un from the second half of 2012, Ri tends not to venture far from the North Korean capital, with 52 of 60 of her appearances in state media taking place in Pyongyang.
Since then, Ri’s absences from the public eye have increased both in number in length.
“One possible reason for Ri’s declining public prominence is that her presence is simply not needed as much as it once was. Ri was initially shown in public alongside Kim to build an image of him as a mature, family man and bolster his perceived leadership credentials,” Grisafi said.
Motherhood could also be keeping Ri from the spotlight, as in late 2012 she gave birth to a daughter and could either be pregnant or have had a second child, although Grisafi stresses there is no direct evidence for this.
“Given that her first child was a daughter and the importance in Korean culture – especially for leadership figures – to have a son, the Kim family may have tried to have a second child by now,” Grisafi said.
Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong also appears to have taken over the mantle somewhat as the leading Kim family public figure. Since she first appeared in February last year Kim has accompanied her brother on field guidance tours and military drills.
On March 12, she was the sole elite mentioned as accompanying Kim Jong Un.
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun