• Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, remains a mysterious but intriguing figure in the Kim family dynasty.
  • Though she remains a subject of curiosity, she reportedly did not accompany her husband on his trip to Hanoi for a summit with President Donald Trump this week.
  • She was first identified as Kim’s wife in 2012 – but since then, few details beyond her fashion taste have emerged.

Ri Sol Ju, the wife of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, has for years been the subject of intense curiosity and international media speculation.

Despite her occasional media appearances alongside her husband, she reportedly won’t be joining Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the summit with President Donald Trump this week.

Over the last year, Ri has become a fashion hit in China after the couple paid a surprise visit to Beijing, and she has been seen cultivating what appears to be a warm friendship with South Korea’s first lady, Kim Jung-sook.

But beyond her taste in fashion, few details are known about Ri, the woman who in 2012 was identified as Kim’s wife.

She is thought to be 29 now and a mother to three children, according to South Korean intelligence reports. But the Hermit Kingdom's secretive government has not confirmed that information.

Ri doesn't appear in public very often. She's usually seen when Kim celebrates missile test launches, and is always photographed smiling politely, wearing clean-cut, pastel dresses.

She was reportedly born into an elite family - her father was a professor and her mother a doctor - but little else is known about her life, or how she ultimately became the wife of the world's most notorious living dictator.

Here's everything we know about Ri Sol Ju:

Ri Sol Ju was first identified as the wife of Kim Jong Un in July 2012, when North Korean state media made it official.

Foto: Kim and his wife Ri attend the opening ceremony of the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground on Rungna Islet along the Taedong River in Pyongyang in this July 25, 2012 photograph released by the North's KCNA.sourceKCNA via KNS/AP Images

An international media frenzy had been mounting for weeks over the "mystery woman" spotted with Kim at a a series of public events, including a theater performance featuring Disney characters, and a tribute to Kim's grandfather on the anniversary of his death.

Foto: Kim applauds with his wife Ri during a demonstration performance by the newly formed Moranbong band in Pyongyang in this undated picture released by the KCNA July 9, 2012.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: CNN

Ri's eventual public introduction was underwhelming, to say the least. North Korean media mentioned her almost as an afterthought during coverage of an amusement park opening in Pyongyang.

Foto: Kim and Ri attend the opening ceremony of the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground on Rungna Islet along the Taedong River in Pyongyang in this July 25, 2012 photograph released by the KCNA.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: The New York Times

"While a welcoming song was resonating," state television reported, "Marshal Kim Jong Un appeared at the ceremony site, with his wife, Comrade Ri Sol Ju."

Foto: Kim stands next to Ri as they attend the 2014 Combat Flight Contest among commanding officers of the Korean People's Air Force in this undated photo released by the KCNA in Pyongyang May 10, 2014sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: The New York Times

It's unclear exactly when Kim and Ri got married. Some have reported the wedding was in 2009 and that Ri gave birth to a child the next year, while others have said the couple didn't meet until a classical music concert in 2010.

Foto: Kim and Ri arrive at an auditorium to attend a performance given by the Moranbong Band to celebrate the 59th anniversary of "the victory" of 1950-53 Korean War in Pyongyang in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency on July 31, 2012.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Sources: BBC, The Daily Beast

The secrecy around their wedding was no surprise to North Koreans and international observers of the Hermit Kingdom. Kim's father never introduced his multiple wives to the public at all.

Foto: A limousine carrying a portrait of late Kim Jong-il leads his funeral procession past crowds on a street in Pyongyang in this still image taken from video December 28, 2011.sourceAssociated Press

Source: The New York Times

Little is known about the life Ri led before marrying Kim, but South Korean intelligence reports have said she once studied singing in China, performed in a North Korean orchestra, and visited South Korea in 2005 as a member of North Korea's cheerleading squad.

Foto: Kim and Ri look on during a visit to Unit 1017 of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Air and Anti-Air Force in this undated picture released by North Korea's KCNA on June 21, 2013.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: CNN

Ri is known for her taste in western fashion — she has been spotted carrying expensive bags by designers like Dior and Chanel.

Foto: Kim speaks next to Ri as he gives field guidance at the new terminal of Pyongyang International Airport in this undated photo released by KCNA on June 25, 2015.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: Business Insider

Her penchant for luxury goods has attracted international criticism. North Korean civilians have struggled for years under famine, drought, and widespread poverty.

Foto: North Koreans travel in a truck in a field northwest of Pyongyang April 8, 2012.sourceREUTERS/Bobby Yip

Read more: 21 photos of North Korea that Kim Jong Un wouldn't want you to see

But the Chinese press loved her clothing choices when she traveled to Beijing in March 2018. State media reported she wore three different outfits during her two-day visit.

Foto: Kim and Ri meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on March 28, 2018.sourceKCNA/via Reuters

Souce: South China Morning Post

One of them was a cropped jacket and a matching dress, with a pink and gold butterfly-shaped brooch. On another outing she wore a white coat overtop a pastel green dress, and for lunch she changed into a cream-colored peplum dress.

Foto: Kim Ri visit the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.sourceKCNA/via Reuters

Source: South China Morning Post

Ri appeared "beautiful and amiable" and had "a powerful presence," Chinese social media users wrote on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Foto: Kim and Ri walk with Xi and Peng in Beijing, China.sourceKCNA/via Reuters

Source: South China Morning Post

In April 2018, Ri became the first wife of a North Korean leader to attend a summit. She even seemed to spark a friendship with the South Korean first lady, Kim Jung-sook during the inter-Korean summit between Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

Foto: South Korean President Moon Jae-in's wife Kim Jung-sook and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju interact at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.sourceKorea Summit Press Pool via Reuters

Source: The Korea Herald

Ri and Kim Jung-sook met up again in September 2018 at another summit. They reportedly bonded over their love of music, as both women have a background in singing. Kim Jung-sook studied singing in university and joined the Seoul Metropolitan Chorus, and Ri was a soloist for the Unhasu Orchestra before she married her husband.

Foto: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-sook, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju, arrive at Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 18, 2018.sourcePyeongyang Press Corps via Reuters

Source: The Korea Herald

In 2017, Ri disappeared from public view for several months, prompting speculation over her well-being. In August, South Korean intelligence reported that she had given birth to a child and dropped out of the public eye because she was pregnant.

Foto: Kim and Ri play with children during a visit to the Taesongsan General Hospital in Pyongyang in this undated photo released by the KCNA May 19, 2014.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Sources: AFP, CNN

It's believed that Ri and Kim now have three children, though the most detailed information comes from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, well-known for his controversial friendship with Kim and frequent trips to North Korea. Rodman said he met the couple's second child in 2013, a baby girl named Ju Ae.

Foto: Rodman gestures to photographers as he prepares to go through immigration at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.sourceAssociated Press/Mark Schiefelbein

Source: The Guardian

"I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms. Ri as well. [Kim's] a good dad and has a beautiful family," Rodman told The Guardian. Those details have not been independently corroborated.

Foto: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman shows a picture he took with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport September 7, 2013.sourceREUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Source: The Guardian

South Korean media has speculated that Ri may have been pressured to have a third child in the hopes that it would be a boy who could inherit Kim's dictatorship, assuming both of the couple's previous children were girls.

Foto: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju disembark a plane for the 2014 Combat Flight Contest in Pyongyang on May 10, 2014.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: UPI

One North Korean defector-turned-researcher, Ahn Chan Il, told South Korean news network YTN that there was "pressure to quickly give birth to a son, because the regime is not so sturdy."

Foto: An activist from an anti-North Korea civic group defaces a North Korea flag depicting North's leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju during a rally against North Korea's nuclear test near the U.S. embassy in central Seoul February 12, 2013.sourceREUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Source: UPI

But other reports have suggested that Kim and Ri's first child was a boy born in 2010, their second child was a daughter born in 2013, and their third child, gender unknown, was born in February 2017.

Foto: The Kim family tree.sourceBusiness Insider/Samantha Lee

Sources: Korea Times, The Sunday Times, Newsweek, CNN

Read more: What we know about Kim Jong Un's 3 possible heirs

Though Kim Jong Un's sister and right-hand-woman, Kim Yo Jong, accompanied him to Hanoi this week, Ri's name wasn't on the list of individuals accompanying Kim.

Foto: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju inspect an honour guard before leaving Pyongyang for a visit to China, this January 7, 2019 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang January 8, 2019.sourceKCNA via Reuters

Source: UPI

As dialogues continue between Kim, South Korean leaders, and US President Donald Trump, perhaps we'll see more of the elusive Ri Sol Ju.

Foto: Kim, Ri, Xi, and wife Peng toast each other in Beijing, China.sourceKCNA/via Reuters