Armed with rocket and maybe heir, Kim Jong-un remembers father

Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:34am EST
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By Somang Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea may soon witness the birth of the fourth generation of its hereditary dictatorship as television pictures showed that the wife of the country's leader appeared to be heavily pregnant.

North Korean state television showed a pudgy Kim Jong-un and his wife paying homage on Monday at a national memorial service for Kim's father, former leader Kim Jong-il, who died a year ago.

The service was in a mausoleum that also houses the embalmed body of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current ruler.

In the footage, Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, was wearing traditional Korean black mourning clothes and looked to be pregnant. It was not possible to verify that she was pregnant and there was no official announcement by North Korean media.

The couple, accompanied by top officials of the secretive state, bowed deeply in front of 5 meter (16 feet) high statues of the late Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il Sung.

Accompanying them were Kim's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, believed to be the effective second in command, and his aunt, Kim Kyong-hui, at a ceremony to inaugurate the renovated Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a giant mausoleum dedicated to the two deceased members of the Kim clan.

North Korea successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite last week, sparking international condemnation from states that believe it is trying to develop a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States.

Choe Ryong-hae, the North Korean military's top political strategist, described the rocket launch in a commemoration speech as "having paraded the great Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-il and Korea proudly in front of the whole world".   Continued...

Ri Sol-ju (L), the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd L), is seen during the inaugural ceremony of the Kumsusan Palace Of The Sun in Pyongyang wearing a black Korean traditional dress and appearing to be heavily pregnant, as they attend the ceremony on the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death, in this still image taken from video December 17, 2012. REUTERS/KRT via Reuters TV