PYONG YANG: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Unís mystery woman is a former singer, who once visited South Korea, a Seoul lawmaker has claimed.
South Korean Legislator Jung Chung-Rai has claimed that Kim Jong-Un has been married since 2009. His remarks came a day after the secretive nation first disclosed the match and then its national media confirmed the development.
Kim has been the subject of intense foreign interest since he took over the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation after his father Kim Jong-Il died suddenly last December.
But even his exact age is unknown outside the North, although he is thought to be in his late twenties, and his marriage to Ri Sol-Ju had been a closely guarded secret. Chung-Rai, citing what he said was information given to a closed parliamentary session by the South's National Intelligence Service (NIS), said Ri was born in 1989 and had studied singing in China.
Jung said Ri had visited Incheon, west of Seoul, in September 2005 as a member of her country's cheering squad for the Asian Athletics Championships.
The North's regime is bitterly hostile to the South's government, threatening "sacred war" over perceived insults to the Kim dynasty which has ruled the North since its founding in 1948.
Jung Chung-Rai claimed that Ri is a stylish short-haired young woman, who usually wears high heels.
She has been pictured several times this month accompanying Kim.
Ri is a Kim Il-Sung University graduate from the northeastern province of North Hamkyong whose father is an academic and mother a doctor, the reports said.
The world has been scrambling for information about Jong-Un since he took over the impoverished but nuclear-armed state after his father Kim Jong-Il died suddenly last December.
He is believed to be in his late 20s, but even his exact age is unknown outside the North.
The International Crisis Group think-tank said in a report this week that Jong-Un appears to be fully in charge, despite speculation he would have to rely on close advisers because of his youth and inexperience.
In public, Jong-Un has presented a relaxed and confident image in an apparent attempt to emphasise his readiness to rule.
In contrast to his late father, he has cultivated an outgoing and informal style - hugging soldiers, posing for photos with troops and linking arms with women.
Neither his father nor grandfather Kim Il-Sung were ever pictured with their wives at public events.
But the disclosure of Jong-Un's marriage is partly to show "he is not a child", said Chang Yong-Suk, of the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.