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North Korea's First Lady a soft, demure foil to Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arriving in Beijing with his wife Ri Sol Ju last month. Ms Ri's media exposure has risen since then, in what is seen as a move by Mr Kim to establish the two of them as a "power couple".
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arriving in Beijing with his wife Ri Sol Ju last month. Ms Ri's media exposure has risen since then, in what is seen as a move by Mr Kim to establish the two of them as a "power couple".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left), accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju (right), visiting a wading pool at the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang, on July 26, 2012.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left), accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju (right), visiting a wading pool at the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang, on July 26, 2012.PHOTO: KCNA
Ms Ri Sol Ju (left) accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) as he meets Mr Song Tao, the head of the China's Communist Party's International Department who led a Chinese art troupe to North Korea for the April Spring Friendship Art Fest
Ms Ri Sol Ju (left) accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) as he meets Mr Song Tao, the head of the China's Communist Party's International Department who led a Chinese art troupe to North Korea for the April Spring Friendship Art Festival, on April 15, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju watching South Korean K-pop singers perform at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju watching South Korean K-pop singers perform at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall.PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju, meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on March 28, 2018.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju, meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on March 28, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

North Koreans have a "respected First Lady" to call their own, as the wife of third-generation leader Kim Jong Un hogs the global limelight with her demure elegance and stylish fashion sense.

People in China and South Korea gasped when Ms Ri Sol Ju accompanied her husband on his first state visit to Beijing last month, with some reports saying she is "as beautiful as Song Hye Kyo", an A-list South Korean actress known for her cherubic face and flawless skin.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline 'N. Korea's First Lady a soft, demure foil to Kim Jong Un'. Print Edition | Subscribe