North Korean Leader Appears With Mystery Woman, Dismisses Top Military Aide

Kim Jong-Un appeared on state television with unknown woman and recently fired a top military aide.

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Like his father Kim Jong-Il, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's rule has been shrouded in mystery.

The depth of secrecy surrounding Mr. Kim took a new turn recently after a mystery woman appeared alongside him on several state television appearances.

In footage of the leader's visit to a local school, an unknown young woman stands close by his side, ahead of several top aides. The preferential treatmeant indicates the woman may be his wife, though some have speculated she could be his sister or secretary. The mystery woman also appeared with the leader at a concert featuring Disney charactersaccording to Korean news site The Chosunilbo.

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The speculation underscores how the country protects its leader—no one knows if Jong-Un is married, or what his exact age is.

Mr. Kim also raised questions earlier this month when a military official thought to be one of his closest advisers was removed from all his posts. Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, the chief of the general staff of the Korean People's Army, had previously been seen often on state television with Mr. Kim and his father Kim Jong-Il.

The dismissal of Vice Marshal Ri due to "illness" was thought by some to indicate a consolidation of power by the reclusive president. Since taking over for his father in December, Kim Jong-Un has made several personnel changes within the power structure of Pyongyang, The Korea Herald reports.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at scline@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.