North Korea has released pictures of a new airport terminal in Pyongyang.
Several pages of the daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed images of Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju inspecting the restaurants and shops.
North Korea has unveiled several large building projects in recent years but human rights groups say much of the country still lives in poor conditions.
The new airport, which will serve only a few flights, is set to open on July 1.
Earlier this month, North Korea said it was facing its worst drought in a century, sparking fears of worsening food shortages.
Three pages of Thursday’s Rodong Sinmun – the ruling Workers’ Party official daily newspaper – were devoted to images of Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju being shown around the terminal.
In one image, Mars bars and bottled beers were on display in one of the airport’s new duty-free shops. Another showed a cafe serving espresso-based drinks.
The glass-fronted building is reported to be six times larger than the old terminal but passenger numbers are likely to be low.
Most of the tiny handful of flights to and from Pyongyang carry Chinese tourists and North Koreans on official business between the North Korean capital and Beijing.
Kim Jong-un described the building as a “landmark of the Songun [military-first] era”, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
He told workers and officials he was “very satisfied to see the terminal well built in harmony with modern aesthetic taste and national character”, KCNA said.
The North Korean leader was also reported to have called for the construction of a high-speed railway and a motorway between Pyongyang and the airport, some 15 miles northwest of the capital.
Since taking power in 2011, Kim Jong-un has promised to raise living standards in the isolated country, but most of his signature projects have been beyond the reach of average North Koreans, like ski resorts and water parks.
Many North Koreans suffer from a lack of food, drinking water and stable electricity.
According to South Korea’s intelligence, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the execution of 15 people in 2015, including several top officials.
South Korea’s spy agency told a parliamentary meeting on April 29 that they were executed by firing squad on spying charges.
Those killed include two vice ministers who challenged Kim Jong-un over his policies and members of an orchestra, intelligence officials said.
Kim Jong-un purged and executed his once-powerful uncle Chang Song-thaek for treachery in 2013.
South Korean politicians were told that one of the officials killed was a forestry minister who had complained about North Korea’s forestation plan, Yonhap news agency reported.
“Excuses or reasoning doesn’t work for Kim Jong-un, and his style of rule is to push through everything,” said Shin Kyung-min, a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee, quoting an intelligence official.
Shin Kyung-min’s office told Reuters news agency that the unnamed official had added that the executions were a “showcase” in response to what Kim Jong-un saw as a challenge to his authority.
Four members of North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra are also believed to have been executed in March.
Reports say that Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju was a singer in the orchestra before her marriage.
South Korean politician Lee Cheol-woo told Yonhap that the head of the orchestra had been executed, possibly for leaking family secrets.
There has been no confirmation from North Korea about the executions but Kim Jong-un has purged his opponents before.
Kim Jong-un has an unspecified medical problem, North Korea’s state media reported after the leader failed to appear at a key political event.
A report on state television said on September 25 that Kim Jong-un, 31, was in an “uncomfortable physical condition” but gave no details.
Earlier, Kim Jong-un was absent from a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) – North Korea’s legislature.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public for more than three weeks.
His non-appearance at the SPA – to which he was elected in March with 100% of the vote – on September 25 prompted renewed speculation about the leader’s whereabouts.
The report on state-run Central Television later in the day showed footage of the leader limping during one of his regular inspection tours back in July.
Kim Jong-un made his last public appearance on September 3, when he attended a concert given by the Moranbong Band – an all-girl musical troupe reputedly hand-picked by the leader himself.
State newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed Kim Jong-un sitting in comfortable front-row seats, alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public for more than three weeks (photo Reuters)
Previous appearances, the usual diet of factory and military unit inspections, show a clearly overweight Kim Jong-un walking with a limp and wearing generously cut trousers, possibly to disguise his walking difficulties.
South Korean newspaper Joongang Daily supports the leg injury theory, and suggests that his disappearance may be due to an injury picked up during some sort of sporting activity.
It is known that Kim Jong-un is a lover of horse riding and is keen on watching basketball and football.
An anonymous source – said to be “familiar with North Korea affairs” – quoted by the South Korean news agency Yonhap, said he understood Kim Jong-un was “suffering from gout, along with hyperuricemia, hyperlipidemia, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure”.
The agency said some people attribute the deterioration in Kim Jong-un’s health to frequent drinking and overeating.
The source said gout runs in Kim Jong-un’s family, with his grandfather Kim II-sung, his father Kim Jong-il and his elder brother Kim Jong-nam all suffering from the disease.
Chosun Ilbo suggests that Kim Jong-un simply might be on holiday, but notes that army politburo head Hwang Pyong-so, Kim Jong-un’s constant shadow on inspection visits, has also disappeared from view.
It is not the first time that the North Korean leader has failed to appear in public for an extended period. In March 2012, he spent 21 days out of the public eye; in June of the same year it was 24 days; and in January 2013 it was 18 days.
Despite the lack of recent footage of Kim Jong-un, he has not entirely disappeared from televisions tuned to Central Television.
Viewers get a daily dose of archive footage of months-old inspection visits along with an enthusiastic voice-over, usually in the hour leading up to the main evening news.
Speculation is growing that Ri Sol-Ju, wife of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, has given birth in recent weeks, continuing the family dynasty into a fourth generation.
Photographs seen on North Korean TV show Ri Sol-Ju wearing a neatly-fitting two-piece skirt suit in contrast to the loose-fitting clothing she was seen wearing in mid December and which suggested she was heavily pregnant.
Adding to the speculation that Ri Sol-Ju has given birth was her recent slimmed-down appearance at an official event, which included an all-woman band singing the Johnny Mathis Christmas favorite When a Child is Born.
Before-and-after photos were run on South Korean TV and in Seoul newspapers today resulting in widespread agreement that Kim Jong-Un’s wife has had a child.
“The bulging stomach has gone down – has Ri Sol-Ju given birth?” asked one newspaper, the Dong-A Ilbo.
The caption in another South Korean paper, the Chosun Ilbo, read: “Ri Sol-Ju with her tummy reduced in 11 days. Has she come out right after childbirth?”
The photographs have undergone the most intense scrutiny and the verdict is that Ri Sol-Ju is a mother.
Speculation is growing that Ri Sol-Ju, wife of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, has given birth in recent weeks, continuing the family dynasty into a fourth generation
A South Korean government official, quoted by the national Yonhap news agency concluded that Ri Sol-Ju “appeared to have already given birth based on analysis of the TV images”.
Whether North Korea will officially announce what would be the equivalent of a royal birth is open to speculation.
No official announcement was made that Kim Jong-Un even had a wife until state media eventually revealed it.
But the announcement came long after pictures had emerged of a stylishly-dressed young woman accompanying the new leader at official events.
Kim Jong-Un was elevated to leader of the secretive Stalinist state following the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, who had succeeded his own father, “Great Leader” Kim Il-Sung.
According to South Korean media, citing intelligence reports, the couple were married in 2009 and already have one child.
But that has never been confirmed.
Ri Sol-Ju is said to have come from an “ordinary family” – although her father being an academic and her mother a doctor raises them above the average level.
The young wife of North Korea’s leader made her first public appearance in two months in October – bringing to an end what might have been a period of “home detention” for being too carefree.
Ri Sol-Ju had been photographed earlier this year smiling and strolling about in a casual manner when accompanying her husband.
But then she disappeared from view, provoking speculation that she might be pregnant but more likely because she was not presenting the dour image promoted by her husband’s late father, Kim Jong-Il.
Analysts say that despite the young Kim’s appointment as supreme commander of the nation, he is still under the control of the military hierarchy who make sure he presents a rigid, authoritative image to the rest of the world.
That means that his wife must remain aloof and untouchable in the eyes of the masses, say North Korean experts.
Ri Sol-ju, the young wife of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, has made her first public appearance in two months, bringing to an end what might have been a period of “home detention” for being too carefree.
Ri Sol-ju had been photographed earlier this year smiling and strolling about in a casual manner when accompanying her husband Kim Jong-un, the newly appointed leader of the secretive Stalinist state.
But then she disappeared from view, provoking speculation that she might be pregnant but more likely because she was not presenting the dour image promoted by her husband’s late father, Kim Jong-il.
Analysts say that despite the young Kim Jong-un’s appointment as supreme commander of the nation, he is still under the control of the military hierarchy who make sure he presents a rigid, authoritative image to the rest of the world.
That means that his wife must remain aloof and untouchable in the eyes of the masses, say North Korean experts.
But now Ri Sol-ju is back in the public eye and fuzzy TV pictures from North Korea show her enjoying the company of her husband at a football match and a musical concert on Monday.
According to the official KCNA news agency, the couple’s appearance at the concert “drew a thunderous cheer from the audience”.
The couple’s attendance also marked the first public appearance in two weeks by Kim Jong-un himself, raising speculation that he has been receiving behavioral advice from the military hierarchy.
Ri Sol-ju made her public appearance joining Kim Jong-un at a football match and a musical concert on Monday
South Korea’s intelligence agency is convinced that the sudden disappearance of Ri Sol-ju from state media since early September is because the nation’s elders had raised an issue over her casual and cheerful demeanor.
“The analysis has been that there was concern over breach of discipline [by Ri Sol-ju] among North Korean elders, plus the speculation of pregnancy,” reported South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting the National Intelligence Service which had giving a closed-door briefing to parliament.
Photos taken at the concert showed Ri Sol-ju in a long cream coat and what appeared to be a thickening waistline, strengthening speculation that she is pregnant.
It was also being suggested Ri Sol-ju had been kept at home as a disciplinary measure because she had been seen in public not displaying a red lapel pin bearing the image, or images, of the two previous leaders.
All senior North Koreans and any working for the government must wear them.
A pin is not visible in the latest photos of Ri Sol-ju but she might be wearing it under her coat.
If Ri Sol-ju is pregnant and she gives birth to a son the Kim dynasty is assured.
If she has a girl, analysts say the hierarchy will insist she “tries again”.
The South Koreans have carefully studied photographs of Kim Jong-un and his wife, published over four pages in the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper. Facial expressions and the people who accompany the couple are all of vital importance to intelligence-gatherers.
It was last July that North Korea finally put an end to speculation about the young woman seen accompanying Kim Ri Sol-ju at numerous events in and around the capital, Pyongyang.
She was, said state media, his wife – and that announcements was seen as a slight lifting of the veil of mystery hiding events in the country.
But just as it seemed North Korea was lightening its hard, reclusive image, the temporary disappearance of Ri Sol-ju has left analysts wondering if anything has really changed there at all.
Speculation is growing that Ri Sol-ju, wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is either pregnant or has angered Communist leaders as the number of days she has spent out of the public eye rises to 40.
Ri Sol-ju was announced as Kim Jong-un’s wife in July but recent newspaper reports in South Korea are rife with rumors about the reasons why the new first lady has not been spotted for nearly six weeks.
Some reports have suggested she may be pregnant, an idea fuelled by appearances on Chosun Central TV and of her visiting Changieon Street homes in early September with Kim Jong-un to deliver birthday food and gifts.
Other reports have highlighted the fact Ri Sol-ju failed to join her husband on a roller coaster ride at the opening of the Reungra People’s Resort, while her aging aunt Kim Kyung-hee took the plunge as evidence that she was pregnant.
A more bizarre theory that is also receiving publicity is that Ri Sol-ju may have received a ban from appearing in public after she failed to wear a lapel pin declaring her loyalty to the Communist regime.
China.org reported a North Korean rebel source revealing that a strict rule says the country’s adults must adorn badges featuring leaders on formal occasions
Ri Sol-ju’s modern appearance marked a major change from the traditional images of North Korean women, who are expected to dress conservatively, wearing skirts or Mao-style work clothes in shades of grey or brown.
Ri Sol-ju was announced as Kim Jong-un’s wife in July
Some commentators have suggested that Kim Jong-un may have gone too far by replacing the Kim lapel badge with more feminine flowered brooches.
She was not present at a recent high-profile event for the 67th founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10 where Kim Jong-un and top officials were all in attendance the JoongAng Ilbo Daily reported.
The following day, the South Korean media cited a source who said Ri Sol-ju’s failure to wear any badges of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il had sparked criticism in the party’s upper ranks and as well as the army who deemed her behavior to bet “completely unacceptable, with repercussions to ensue”.
On her last public appearance former pop star Ri Sol-ju, wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wore a stylish black trouser suit during a visit to the Taedonggang tile factory in Pyongyang.
Most residents of the city, the country’s capital, only ever wear drab colored Mao-style suits and North Korean women generally dress only in conservative skirts.
Ri Sol-ju’s appearance in the unconventional outfit comes just weeks after she was pictured at an event with what looked like a luxurious Dior evening pouch.
The appearance of Ri Sol-ju, who is thought to be in her 20s, was enough of a fashion statement to incite comment over the border in South Korea, the Daily Telegraph reported.
More details are emerging in South Korea about Ri Sol-Ju, the woman identified as the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
A lawmaker, quoting intelligence officials, said they believed Ri Sol-Ju had visited South Korea in 2005 and had studied singing in China.
Other news reports suggest that Kim Jong-Un may have spotted her at a musical performance.
North Korea has not given any details beyond saying she was Kim Jong-Un’s wife.
There had been speculation about Kim Jong-Un, who took over as leader of the country after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il last year, after he was seen with a woman on various occasions since June.
State media confirmed for the first time on Wednesday that leader Kim Jong-Un was married.
A lawmaker, quoting intelligence officials, said they believed Ri Sol-Ju had visited South Korea in 2005 and had studied singing in China
An eight-minute report on North Korean radio mentioning Ri Sol-Ju’s name was broadcast at 20:00 local time on Wednesday.
South Korean lawmaker Jung Chung-Rai told reporters following a briefing by intelligence agents that Ri Sol-Ju was from an ordinary family in Pyongyang.
Ri Sol-Ju may have visited South Korea in 2005 as part of the North’s cheerleading team for the Asian Athletics Championships, Jung Chung-Rai said.
The cheerleaders are seen wearing red baseball caps, twirling umbrellas and dancing in the stands with tambourines, television footage of the event shows.
Ri Sol-Ju is also likely to have “participated in several inter-Korean exchange programmes”, reports South Korean news ageny Yonhap.
The paper cited three separate events between 2003-2005 attended by someone from North Korea with the same name as Ri Sol-Ju, including the championships.
It remains unclear when the couple got married. Most South Korean reports suggest that Ri Sol-Ju may have been a singer who caught Kim Jong-Un’s attention during a performance.
A source told The Choson Ilbo newspaper that a singer with the same name as Ri Sol-Ju had performed with the Eunhasu Orchestra until last year.
At least two newspapers, including the Choson Ilbo, say that Ri Sol-Ju has been groomed as the first lady, possibly studying at Kim Il-Sung University.
Ri Sol-Ju’s Western-style dress and short cropped hair have led to speculation over whether Kim Jong-Un has a less traditional, more international outlook than his father.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is married, state media have confirmed for the first time.
Reports referred to Kim Jong-Un attending the opening of an amusement park with his wife, “Comrade Ri Sol-Ju”.
There had been much speculation Kim Jong-Un’s private life in recent weeks when an unidentified woman was pictured attending events with him.
Kim Jong-Un took over as leader of the country after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December last year.
The eight minute report on North Korean radio which mentioned Ri Sol-Ju was broadcast at 20:00 local time on Wednesday.
North Korean media reports referred to Kim Jong-Un attending the opening of an amusement park with his wife, "Comrade Ri Sol-Ju”
Analysts have been watching Kim Jong-Un and his inner circle for clues as to the direction in which they will take the isolated state.
Last week authorities performed a military reshuffle widely interpreted by analysts as an attempt to stamp the authority of the new leader on North Korea’s powerful army.
There is a North Korean singer by the name of Ri Sol-Ju but it has not been confirmed whether Kim Jong-Un’s wife is the same woman.
Ri Sol-Ju is thought to be the same “mystery woman” who accompanied Kim Jong-Un to several events in recent weeks and whose Western dress and hairstyle led some to speculate on the influence of Kim Jong-Ju’s brief European education.
South Korean media had previously speculated that the woman was another North Korean singer, Hyon Song-Wol.
The focus on Kim Jong-Un’s personal life has been intense – within minutes of the news breaking, Ri Sol-Ju’s name was trending on micro-blogging site Twitter.
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