North Korean leader's wife making headlines

    10:30 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
    • Share
    • Print
    • - A A A +

    UNDATED (CBS) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made headlines on New Year's Day with a speech calling for better relations with South Korea even though the two countries are technically still at war. Inside North Korea, his wife is the true headliner.

    North Korea's state run television just released this video of Kim Jong-Un attending a new year's event with his wife Ri.

    The two are seen meeting with diplomats and later attending a concert where one of their favorite bands performed. It would be a pedestrian political appearance in America but it's rare in North Korea where the "dear leader" has almost always been a one-man show.

    Professor David Kang, director Korean Studies Institute at USC says, "Both the grandfather and the father, Kim Il Song and Kim Jong Il, were the head of state and you never saw the wives. That's one reason that Kim Jong Un is so interesting, because his wife is all over the place."

    It appeared as though the young new leader was attempting to soften the regime's image with a North Korean style Camelot. Ri Sol-Ju is thought to be the former lead singer of a band and was officially unveiled as Kim's wife last July. She's made waves by ditching North Korea's bland Mao-style work clothes, opting for designer pantsuits, dresses, and Chanel bags. Kang says, "Even just a few years ago it was considered western corruption to have Chanel or this type of luxury clothing, but now it's being flaunted by the head of, by the first lady. So they're clearly moving in a new direction."

    But there's also been controversy. Ri suddenly disappeared from the public eye for nearly 40 days last fall. Rumors were that she was pregnant or that by being so fashion-forward she had found herself afoul of North Korea's conservative old guard. Some publications even wondered if she refused to wear the required lapel pin featuring the face of North Korea's founder. Yet it was all speculation because the North Korean regime is notoriously secret. Kang says, "We know so little about the ruling regime that we don't know how old she is, and we don't know how old he is. Up until two years ago, we didn't even have a photograph of Kim Jong Un so we don't know that much of what's going on."

    We know on New Year's they appeared to be all smiles at least by North Korean standards.

    Most Watched Videos