As North Korea prepares for consecutive high-profile summits with South Korea and the US in the next one-and-half months, its supreme leader Kim Jong-un made a major diplomatic move by making his wife the 'First Lady'
Ri Sol Ju, the 28-year-old and stylish wife of Kim, has often accompanied the latter to official programmes but appeared on her own last week at a ballet performance by a Chinese troupe visiting North Korea.
The hermit kingdom's state media described Ri as the "respected First Lady", marking a departure from the practice in over four decades.
A former celebrated singer, Ri emerged in the public in 2012 and is seen as one of the most high-profile women in a country which is patriarchal in its functioning though with a limited role as Kim's wife.
The move to make Ri the first lady is believed to make North Korea appear a normal country ahead of the high-profile engagements with South Korea and US. While Kim is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27, he is supposed to meet US President Donald Trump sometime in May end or early June.
With granting Ri the title of the first lady, she now is positioned equally with FLOTUS Melina Trump and it makes the proposed Kim-Trump meeting looks more complete. Ri also accompanied Kim during his surprise visit to China last month - the first ever foreign trip by the leader who assumed charge in December 2011.
Kim has brought an exception during his time by moving around with Ri and his sister Yo Jong in public, something his predecessors were not found to be doing.