Kim Jong Un’s Wedding to Ri Sol-Ju: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty North Korean first lady Ri Sol-ju (L) and Leader Kim Jong Un attend the Inter-Korean Summit dinner on April 27, 2018.

Kim Jong Un is married to Ri Sol-ju, a woman whose life was very mysterious in the beginning, as she kept mostly out of the public eye until recently. Their marriage was announced in 2012, but exactly when they first met is not exactly known. Their wedding wasn’t publicized at the time it happened and there are no photos to be found. But we can gather some clues about what likely happened from multiple sources. Here is what we know about Kim Jong Un’s wedding to Ri Sol-ju.


1. Kim Jong Il Arranged Their Marriage After His Stroke & the Couple May Have Been Married in 2009

GettyNorth Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) toast with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (2nd R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R) during the official dinner at the end of their historic summit in April 2018.

At the time they were married, their union wasn’t announced. Analyst Cheong Seong-chang has said that Ri and Kim were married in 2009 and had their first child just a year later. He also said that it was Kim Jong Il who arranged their marriage, an action he did quickly after his stroke in 2008.


2. There Were Rumors that Ri Sol-ju Was Singer Hyon Song-wol, But Others Said She Was from an Upper Class Family and Studied Science

Almost as mysterious as their wedding is Ri Sol-ju herself. In fact, BBC reported that at one point in time, many people believed she was actually the singer Hyon Song-wol. The two look strikingly similar. Hyon originally disappeared from the public view in 2006, and she and Kim Jong Un reportedly knew each other since they were teens. South Korean intelligence sources had said their were rumors that they dated. In March 2012, Hyon made her first public appearance again, where she was very pregnant and sang for International Women’s Day. She has since performed in private concerts in December 2015 and in 2018 she took part in talks preparing for the Olympics. And now she’s appeared in Singapore, possibly to perform at the summit.

Analyst Cheong Seong-chang has said that Ri is from an upper middle class family and studied science. Her father is a professor and her mother is an obstetrician.


3. Kim Jong Un’s Father Never Even Introduced His Wives to the Public, so the Secrecy of Kim Jong Un’s Wedding Isn’t a Big Surprise

Although it sounds strange to a public used to weddings like the Royal Wedding, in North Korea it’s actually not so strange for a wedding of the ruling class to not be publicized, Business Insider reported. In fact, simply appearing with his wife in public was a change from the norm. Kim Jong Un’s father never even introduced his wives publicly.

Interestingly, Ri Sol Ju is more involved in politics than is normal in North Korea, which has many believing that changes are happening in the country.


4. North Korea Has Strict Wedding Traditions

GettyThis March 2, 2017 picture released by North Korean news agency, KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) on March 3, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju.

Little is known about Kim Jong Un’s wedding, but there are some specific rules in place for weddings in North Korea. Whether or not Kim Jong Un needed to follow these rules is another question.

In North Korea, bouquets aren’t thrown, but newlyweds bring flowers to the statue of Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung immediately after their ceremony, The Guardian reported. It’s possible that Kim Jong Un did the same. Wedding photos are taken at the statue. And couples cannot be married on April 15 or February 16, which are the birthdays of former North Korea leaders.

Wedding in North Korea are typically quite traditional. Brides wear traditional hanbok dresses. Some may be white with colorful embroidered flowers, and others may be a combination of bright pink, red, and yellow.

Interestingly, almost every North Korean wedding features a live chicken and rooster at the ceremony, with guests’ putting dates and flowers in the hen’s beak and red chili in the rooster’s beak. The hen and rooster are wrapped in red and blue.


5. A Person with an Important Status Has a Lavish Wedding with Many Guests

GettyThis undated picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 10, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (front 2nd L) attending an art performance dedicated to nuclear scientists.

The more important a person is, the grander their wedding. So it’s possible that Kim Jong Un had a lavish wedding indeed. North Korean elites tend to hold their weddings in VIP lounges or ballrooms. The number of guests can represent social standing. Affluent guests often give money as a gift, and party officials give U.S. dollars to show their status.