Kim Jong-un 'expecting second child'
Published 24/02/2014 | 09:19
North Korean leader is seeking male heir to continue communist world's only hereditary regime
The wife of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has appeared in public wearing what appears to be the same maternity dress she wore shortly before she gave birth to a daughter in late 2012, giving rise to speculation that she is once again pregnant.
In a photograph on the front page of the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper taken at a recent sporting event in Pyongyang, Ri Sol-ju is wearing loose-fitting clothing and appears to have put on weight again.
"There have been rumours that Ri is pregnant again for a few weeks now," Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph.
"This is not really a surprise as Kim needs a son as a successor for the dynasty that has ruled North Korea since it was founded by his grandfather, Kim Il-sung," he said. "It's absolutely impossible that a daughter could take over as leader, so his wife needs to give birth to a son."
Formerly the lead singer with the Ponchonbo Electronic Ensemble, Ri has been out of the North Korean spotlight again in recent weeks, similar to how she disappeared from her husband's side as he carried out "on-the-spot guidance tours" to state farms, industrial facilities and military units during her first pregnancy.
As well as fathering a child with Ri, Kim is believed to have another daughter, born in 2010 to a different mother.
The birth of Kim's second daughter coincided with a surge in imports of high-end Swiss and German baby products.
No photos have emerged of the couple's baby, which analysts attribute to the ongoing three-year period of official mourning for Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011.