GOYANG, South Korea, April 27 (Korea Bizwire) – Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, crossed the border in the Demilitarized Zone into South Korean territory Friday to attend a summit dinner hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Upon her arrival at the truce village of Panmunjom at 6:15 p.m., she headed directly for the Peace House building on the southern side of the village, where the welcome dinner is to take place. Moon and Kim had a historic summit on the second floor of the building earlier in the day.
Before sitting at the dinner table, Ri had a brief conversation with South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook at the same building in what will be remembered as the first-ever meeting between first ladies of the two Koreas.
“I’m happy to hear from my husband that the summit was a success. I hope things the two leaders do go well,” South Korea TV reports quoted Ri as saying during the meeting. She was seen smiling brightly in bright pink Western attire.
Two former South Korean first ladies — Lee Hee-ho and Kwon Yang-sook — traveled with their husbands — Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun — to visit Pyongyang for the two previous inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, though they had no chance to meet the spouse of then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Kim Ok, known as the late leader’s fourth wife, often accompanied him during his trips to China and Russia but not formally as his wife. Her name was never mentioned in the North’s state media reports covering the trips.
Ri’s visit comes amid her growing diplomatic presence as first lady in recent months.
She was seen alongside Kim when he made his surprise diplomatic debut in a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing last month. She also accompanied Kim during the dinner he hosted for a South Korean delegation on March 5. On April 1, she attended the first performance in Pyongyang by a South Korean art troupe together with her husband.
On April 14, the North’s state media officially recognized Ri as “revered first lady” when she made her first public appearance without her spouse to attend a performance by the National Ballet of China in Pyongyang. Ri used to be identified by the title “comrade.”
Analysts have said that Ri’s increased public role comes as Kim seeks to improve the image of his reclusive country as a normal state.