The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was once a competitive cheerleader and singer who came from a prominent family before she married the dictator.
Before married life, Ri Sol-ju was an active cheerleader, visiting South Korea as a member of North Korea’s cheering squad for the Asian Athletics Championships in 2005, reports CNN.
Apparently, Ri was also part of the North Korean Olympic cheerleading team too, when she was in her early 20s.
Ri, who is believed to be in her 30s and to have three children with her hubby, was also a singer in her former life as well.
It comes after the North Korean dictator celebrated his 38th birthday and 10 years reigning over the hermit state.
She went to China to study the craft, and was a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, a popular orchestral group that featured traditional Korean singing.
In fact, it is rumoured that Ri first grabbed the dictator’s attention while performing in a concert, however, The Sun reports that since her marriage, North Korean officials have tried to erase her singing past by confiscating bootleg CDs of her performances.
It is believed the former songstress comes from Chongjin, in North Korea’s northern Hamgyong Province, and hails from the upper echelons of North Korean society with a gynecologist mother and professor father.
Although Ri and Kim Jong-un, 38, married in 2009 shortly after Kim Jong-il died from a heart attack, she only made her first official appearance as North Korea’s First Lady in 2012, when she caused a stir for her Western-style clothing and appearance, reports the ABC.
In her official debut she wore peep toes shoes, toted a Dior bag and sported a short haircut. She also linked arms with her husband – all very controversial in North Korea’s traditional society, which made her an instant fashion icon among young North Korean women.
Recently, a year long absence from state media in 2020 sparked concern and speculation over Ri’s health, with death, illness, pregnancy or possibly an a falling out with Kim Jong-un as possible explanations for her absence.