In today’s society, once a woman starts dating a man, she posts selfies of herself and the guy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, pretty much on any public forum out there and if it were up to her, she would broadcast it on the local radio and tv station, that is today’s marriage. What should be private is no longer private. Maybe its because in today’s world, nothing is taboo and so we find ourselves wanting to mark our territory and what better way to do so than to make sure that everyone knows you are an item through social media.
Well, Kim Jong –Un is Kim Jong –Il’s son. He is also the third family member to have served as North Koreas ruler. Well, you may not know this, but he has a wife, Ri Sol-Ju. Most of us are used to powerful, in your face kind of first ladies who appear in every national activity and engagement and who hold their own portfolio. From Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama, the first lady wields their own special kind of power that is unmatched. But not the First Lady of North Korea. Her marriage and life are somewhat shrouded in mystery and even the little power she wields is totally insignificant as she has to follow the following 10 rules as set out by Kim Jong-Un
10. She had to change her name
Some of us subscribe to the traditional form of marriage. We are the kind who swear ‘ your people shall be my people’ and we truly adhere to this including changing our last name and taking his on. While these days the practice is changing and it is quite common to see a woman hyphenating her name, still most of us still give up our last name for love. Well, this common practice for this first lady went all the way and along with the ceremony and the husband, she got a whole new name.
The bizarre thing here is that the name Ri Sol-Ju which she took after marriage is the only name people know her by. Her previous name was buried along with her old life and past. While most of us complain about the fact that we are the only ones who get to change the name hence the hyphenating trend, to be Kim Jong- Uns wife, Ri Sol-Ju the sacrifice for this privilege is a complete name change and no past. This is Kind of nice if you ask me and it would be the perfect way to avoid paying those parking tickets and college loans.
9. She Was Forced To Hide Her Pregnancies
For a woman, the most exciting and proud moment of her life is when she conceives and most of us love the baby bump. Not only is it a declaration of our love it is also a sign that soon, we are going to be mothers and letting the world know that we have someone doesn’t hurt either. Pregnancy comes with so many perks, from having the door opened for you to having your groceries carried by complete strangers, life as a pregnant woman can be top notch.
The minute the bump begins to show is the best for a woman and denying her this small pleasure is evil. For Ri Sol-Ju the minute she gets pregnant, she has to make a disappearing act from the limelight for months on end. Being in North Korea, where one can disappear and do so completely, it becomes a welcome relief knowing that she does so to nurse her pregnancies. Whatever this tradition is, it is a continuous thing that we hope will be broken now that she has a son but she does truly miss out on those nice treatments that come with the pregnant status.
8. No Press Cover For Her
The best scoop for any journalist is getting a rare picture of the first lady or even getting to interview her on mundane issues like her love for knitting. This is what every journalist lives for and for most, they can go to any length to get that story, unfortunately, in North Korea, these rare pictures are not taken. Freedom of the press is something unknown in this country and no journalist would dare take a photo of the first lady unless it is with direct permission from Kim Jon-Un. On occasions when she accompanies Kim Jon- Un, photos are edited to obscure her and there are even times when the media just gives her a blackout, after all, taking photos of the first lady earns you nothing as they will never see the light of day anyway and one may wind up in some very dark dungeon. This very pretty lady who appears quite poised and refined in the few photos of her in the public domain is largely hidden from the eyes of the public which is quite a shame as she is the kind of first lady that would truly raise the profile of the country for the better.
7. She Is Not Allowed To See Her Parents
Every unmarried woman is a daddy’s girl and every married woman is her mothers best friend. it could be because once the woman gets married, she realizes what her mother goes through in marriage and that fosters some kind of bond that is hard to break. Unfortunately for Ri Sol-Ju, even though her mother heads up the gynecology ward in one of the hospitals and her father works as a professor within the city, she is not allowed to see them.
Not that she would have to fly to see them or even take a night to travel home, their close proximity changes nothing. Marrying into the ruling family meant that she gave up the privilege of crying in her mother’s shoulder or even listening to the wise words of her father. She may have met her husband through her famous family when her uncle was King Jon-Uns advisor, but still, she is not allowed to see them with rumors that she has not seen them for years. As rules go, this one borders on cruelty on someone who grew up with parents and siblings and has only been married for a few years
6. No Say On Her Hair Or Dress Code
A woman’s crowning glory is her hair but every woman wants to have the choice to choose her own crown. A dictated crown is not glorious to her neither is that outfit she is supposedly expected to consider divine. Every woman knows what she likes to wear, what she feels comfortable in and what she thinks makes her look and feel gorgeous. A ten-year-old has rules on what can and cannot be done about her hair and she raises hell if this is not done. For Ri Sol-Ju, her honeymoon phase was quite liberal, she had the gall to rock pants in North Korea no less and to wear a personalized broach in place of the traditional brooch and for her flawless looks, she donned what is considered western accessories and products.
This was short lived though and her wardrobe was overhauled completely to feature conservative clothes with her personal tastes being thrown out the window. It would appear to be the first lady, does not mean setting a precedence and neither does it mean having the freedom to be your own person. She is the first lady with no room to be who she is.
5. No Public Life
We learn to love and have dreams of grandeur by watching the first lady and her kids as they conquer the world or go on family holidays in the countryside or the beach in the glare of cameras or open the dance at the end of year party. This trend was made popular by Michelle Obama and her two daughters who made being a first lady so glamorous and truly inspirational. Well, for Ri Sol- Ju, this simple pleasure of going to the beach or appearing out in public does not exist. She has three kids, secret kids we should say, as little is known about them since no single picture of the children exist (we are in 2018 by the way). Speculation is rife that the family now has an heir, in this case, a son as power in North Korea is passed to the son but this is still a rumor.
Whatever the story is, it seems as if Kim Jong-Un is purposely keeping his family hidden from when they are in the womb to when they are born. This first lady does not enjoy the perks that come with her post and she does not enjoy the adoration that comes from her citizen either and neither do her children.
4. She Can’t Leave North Korea
First ladies spend their day’s globe trotting. Either to shop or just on holiday, globe-trotting is in the woman’s portfolio. From attending the fashion week in Paris to the launch of Tahari Arthur Levine’s summer collection to the launch of some cosmetic line in some far away country to massive shopping in the malls in Dubai, first ladies have the best time and for the period their husbands are in power, they can visit any country in the world they fancy. Unfortunately for, Ri Sol-Ju, her globe-trotting days ended when she married this dictator. At least she has some sweet memories having traveled outside North Korea to China at one time and even to South Korea while she was a cheerleader.
It is thanks to this freedom laced time that according to the Telegraph, Ri once used to even sing at concerts and it is apparently here that Kim set his eyes on her when he saw her performance. In the short period that Michelle Obama was the first lady, she went to more countries than we can count so do other first ladies even those from little-known countries. For Ri Sol-Ju, what would be amazing is making it outside the country but this seems to be changing as she accompanied Kim Jong–Un to Beijing last month. Her first trip in over a decade so it would appear things are looking up.
3. Hers Was A Forced Marriage Or Was It?
We just witnessed a royal wedding and for a ruler of any country, getting married is a big deal and it is highly publicized with cameras and all the glam. Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju’s marriage is shrouded in mystery. It is believed that the two married in 2009 and that Kim Jong Il, who suffered a stroke in 2008 arranged the marriage or forced them into it. This control freak who made rules and strict regulations for the rest of the country was quite possessive of his son and ordered him to get married to Ri Sol-Ju. Being from a prominent family, she crossed their eyesight and that sealed her fate.
As is the norm with most arranged marriages, this poor woman had no choice but to follow the order and so her choice of spouse was taken out of her hands and she wound up with another dictator of greater magnitude who seems to have stolen the spring in her step. She is however rumored to have been blessed with three children which should fill her days with happiness despite all the rules – unless of course there is a rule against cuddling her children or sharing a joke with them.
2. She Doesn’t Appear At Public Events
Remember what its like on Independence Day, the excitement and the palpable air of pure joy that lasts days before and after the event? National holidays and state visits for most countries are a first family affair and to make it a national event, these days are declared public holidays. This is where the ruler and the first lady are seen taking photos with visiting dignitaries and sharing in the country’s history. Even though North Korea has a first lady, she is rarely seen in public and she is not included in the public event.
While other first ladies have a portfolio that includes public engagements as well as philanthropic work, North Korea where personal pride is considered its main ideal has completely sidelined the first lady and even the media which is largely state-owned and controlled, tends to completely give her a media blackout. Even at events that Ri Sol-Ju should accompany her husband, like concerts, Kim Jong-un chooses to take his sister Kim Yo-Jung or at times the person who designs his weapons. This is the kind of places the first lady should grace and at least share with her subjects but this lady seems to have bitten the short end of the stick on her marriage.
1. She Was Forced To Have Babies Until She Had A Son
Some traditions are truly medieval and in this day and age, a woman has a right to choose the number of children she will have when and how. In a move that sounds practically medieval, North Korea still believes in passing the reigns of power to a male heir. For this reason, despite Ri Sol-Ju giving birth to two girls, she was forced to keep giving birth until the day she gave him a son. Despite being married in the year 2009, having their first child in 2010(reportedly), it took quite a while for nature to favor her with a male child.
This is not only insulting to a woman but also quite hurtful to the two girls who were supposedly found unsatisfactory for this dictator. While most American women would rebel against this rule especially after carrying a pregnancy for nine months and going through the throes of labor as well as the first year of a child’s life, Ri Sol-Ju is married in North Korea and in this country, Kim Jong-Un is law. Refusing to adhere to the rules he sets out could lead to a beheading or secret disappearance that no one will ever mention, not even the media.