SEOUL, South Korea - Experts on North Korea have long studied photos of the country's leaders trying to interpret the significance in the slightest change of body language, pose or position of hierarchy.
That intense scrutiny has now been turned on the wife of Kim Jong-Un in a celebrity-like guessing game about whether she had been pregnant and may have given birth. Or whether she simply gained weight and lost it again.
North Korea's first lady Ri Sul-Ju is believed to already have one child.
The secretive North Korean government has not confirmed any of these speculations.
The rumor mill started when North Korea's Central News Agency released photos taken on Oct. 29 at a musical performance. Ri was wearing a long yellow knit jacket with a feminine bow on her stomach and the little tummy bump has raised questions: did she gain weight or is she pregnant?
It was difficult to tell but taking into account her fashion statement during the summer and fall of last year sporting vivid colored fit dresses and high-heel pumps, the loose cut jacket caught the eyes of North Korea watchers.
The next appearance by the first lady was on Dec. 17 at a memorial ceremony for Kim's late-father Kim Jong-Il who died of a heart attack on 2011. She was wearing the Korean traditional black funeral costume. The form of the dress itself is supposed to be wide below the chest, but her swollen face and what looked like a tummy bump got the rumor swirling.
Then came the recent photo taken on New Year's Day, back to her signature Chanel-style round -neck pink jacket and skirt and a visibly slimmer waistline.
The buzz in Seoul is still split: birth, weight problem, or could have been just the form of the dresses.
- North Korea