Asia

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un married to Ri Sol-ju

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Media captionA KRT news reader shows the first footage of Kim Jong-un and his new wife Ri Sol-ju since their marriage was revealed, on a visit to a pre-school

North Korean state media have confirmed for the first time that the country's leader Kim Jong-un is married.

Reports referred to him attending the opening of an amusement park with his wife, "Comrade Ri Sol-ju".

There had been much speculation about Mr Kim's private life in recent weeks when an unidentified woman was pictured attending events with him.

Kim Jong-un took over as leader of the country after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December last year.

The eight-minute report on North Korean radio which mentioned Ms Ri was broadcast at 20:00 local time on Wednesday (11:00 GMT).

Analysts have been watching Mr Kim and his inner circle for clues as to the direction in which they will take the isolated state.

Last week authorities performed a military reshuffle widely interpreted by analysts as an attempt to stamp the authority of the new leader on North Korea's powerful army.

The United States wished Mr Kim well, but said that its concern was ''first and foremost'' for the North Korean people and hopes that ''conditions for them will improve''.

''We would always wish any kind of newlyweds well,'' State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

'Mystery woman'

There is a North Korean singer by the name of Ri Sol-ju but it has not been confirmed whether Mr Kim's wife is the same woman.

Nor did state media mention when the couple got married.

Ms Ri is thought to be the same "mystery woman" who accompanied Mr Kim to several events in recent weeks and whose Western dress and hairstyle led some to speculate on the influence of Mr Kim's brief European education.

The woman was spotted with him at a concert featuring Disney characters and at a ceremony to mark the 18th anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung, Mr Kim's grandfather.

South Korean media had previously speculated that the woman was another North Korean singer, Hyon Song-wol.

Appearing with his wife may be part of a more informal style that Mr Kim is trying to cultivate to contrast with the austere manner of his father.

The announcement also appears to have caught North Korean media off guard: while state TV and radio named Ms Ri as Mr Kim's wife, the initial English-language reports on the news agency KCNA made no mention of her at all.

The focus on Mr Kim's personal life has been intense in recent weeks - within minutes of the news breaking, Ms Ri's name was trending on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Ms Ri is believed to have married Mr Kim in 2009 and given birth to a child the following year, analyst Cheong Seong-chang told the South Korean Korea Times newspaper.

"The late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il arranged his youngest son's marriage in a hurry after suffering a stroke in 2008," Mr Cheong said.

Ms Ri studied science and is from an upper-class family, her father being a professor and her mother an obstetrician, he added.