As North Korea remembers Kim Jong Il on the first anniversary of his death, the country could soon be welcoming a new addition to the Kim dynasty, according to analysis of state media broadcast footage.
Video released Monday shows Kim Jong Un, the Dear Leader’s youngest son and North Korea’s current ruler, leading remembrance rites for his late father, who passed away on Dec. 17 last year (as state media reported, due to “overwork”). Next to the 29 year-old stood his wife Ri Sol Ju, wearing what the Telegraph reported was “traditional Korean mourning dress“— with a noticeable bulge at her waistline. A writer for the Huffington Post “detected a slight swelling around Ju’s usually trim midsection,” while the South Korean news agency Yonhap called her “heavily pregnant” — appearing to confirm weeks of rumors in South Korean media that the former singer was expecting.
It’s been a big year for Kim, who consolidated control of his country, successfully put a controversial satellite into orbit and has been declared by TIME readers the Person of the Year for 2012 (and the “Sexiest Man Alive” by some other publications). State media first introduced his First Lady to her public in July, when the Kims visited a newly opened amusement park and went on a roller-coaster ride. In August, Ri disappeared from public view for almost two months, prompting initial speculation that she was pregnant — or that she had somehow run afoul of Kim or of Pyongyang’s notorious security apparatus.
The otherwise high visibility of North Korea’s first couple stands in stark contrast the leadership of Kim Jong Il, who kept his family out of public view. “Kim Jong Un basically grew up on Google and his father grew up on letters and stamps,” Jasper Kim, founder of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group told CNN. “It’s a new era and Kim Jong Un realizes the more he can kind of shape the narrative to the international community, the more it is to his benefit in terms of getting security and money and everything else that he wants for his country.”
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