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(LEAD) N.K. leader Kim, his wife Ri attend performance marking Lunar New Year's Day

North Korea 16:45 February 02, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with appearance of Kim's aunt in paras 4-6; CHANGES photo; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, have attended an art performance marking Lunar New Year's Day, Pyongyang's state media reported Wednesday.

It marks Ri's first public appearance since last September when the couple visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of Kim's late grandfather and national founder Kim Il-sung, and his late father and former leader Kim Jong-il lie in state.

Kim and Ri, along with senior North Korean officials, watched the performance at the Mansudae Art Theater in Pyongyang on Tuesday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from L), his wife Ri Sol-ju (L) and other senior officials attend an art performance at the Mansudae Art Theater in Pyongyang on Feb. 1, 2022, in this photo captured from a broadcast released the following day by the North's official Korean Central Television. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Also attending the performance was Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, a broadcast by the North's Korean Central Television showed. She had been out of the public eye since her last public activity some two years ago.

The political stature of Kim Kyong-hui, the only sister of the current North Korean leader's late father, Kim Jong-il, has waned since her husband, Jang Song-thaek, was executed in late 2013 for plotting to overthrow the dynastic regime.

She had also been absent from the public scene for about six years since Jang's execution, triggering a flurry of speculation on her health.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his wife Ri Sol-ju (C), his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (in circle) and other senior officials attend an art performance at the Mansudae Art Theater in Pyongyang on Feb. 1, 2022, in this photo captured from a broadcast released the following day by the North's official Korean Central Television. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

"The respected General Secretary warmly congratulated the audience and the artistes on the Lunar New Year's Day, acknowledging the enthusiastic cheers," the KCNA said in an article, referring to the leader.

Among the senior officials attending the event were Choe Ryong-hae, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly; Jo Yong-won, secretary for organizational affairs of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee; and Premier Kim Tok-hun.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
(END)

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