North Korea Has Got Tabloid Fever Over Kim Jong-un's Baby

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Could North Korea be welcoming a Lil' Kim? Reports are criss-crossing the usually hush-hush country nation late this week that Kim Jong-un's wife may have given birth to a future supreme leader. Not that anything's been confirmed — not even from the enthusiastic state news agency — because this is North Korea, after all.

So, no, there haven't been any official announcements from the government about the seasons changing, no swallows descending from heaven, no new stars in the sky, no double rainbows, nor any cracking ancient icebergs — although all those things did happen, according to North Korean textbooks, when Kim Jong-un's dad was born.

But there are still those pregnancy rumors. We noted last month that Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, looked like this on December 17:

But now, the North Koreans are buzzing, she looks more like this photo from New Year's Day:

Here's a screencap from a South Korean news station showing what they believe is the dramatic shedding of a baby bump:

"[W]hen she appeared with Mr. Kim at a concert on New Year’s Day, there was no sign of a swollen belly in video of the event, and Ms. Ri looked noticeably slimmer, wearing a tighter dress," reported The New York Times's Choe Sang-Hun. That basically sums up the hype: Ms. Jong-un got remarkably skinny and perhaps delivered another supreme heir who will one day rule the  contentious nation. "Adding to the speculation was the appearance at the concert of an all-female band playing a version of the Johnny Mathis hit When a Child Is Born," reports The Guardian's Justin McCurry. (Really, a Johnny Mathis song?)

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Anyway, the speculation is, as always with North Korea, bizarre and exciting at the same time. Remember how long it took to confirm if Kim Jong-un had even taken a wife? Yeah. Remember the last time the government came out and admitted anything personal about itself, short of some rocket launch or other? Not really. So unless there's some hardcore international gossip sleuth we don't know about, there's no way of confirming the baby news until the current Supreme Leader does announce it. And we know he won't tell his own citizens, through propaganda TV or holding up the baby for all to see, until he's good and ready ... or at least until the masses have bought in completely to a pretty spectacular fable.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.