Ri and Kim in 2012 (Reuters/File)
Ri Sol Ju, wife of Kim Jong Un—the North Korean supreme leader and world's most dangerous Dennis Rodman fan—had a baby in late 2012, according to reports by the Washington Free Beacon and South Korean media outlets citing intelligence officials from Washington to Pyongyang.
If the reports are accurate, the child could emerge as Kim's successor as dictator in the communist dynasty's hierarchy.
The sex of the child is not known, but most believe the secrecy surrounding the reported birth means it's a girl. “If it was a boy, [the North Koreans] would have made an announcement,” Michael Madden, editor of the online newsletter North Korea Leadership Watch, told the Washington Free Beacon.
When the first official photos of Ri were released in October, "intelligence analysts" said she appeared to have a baby bump. The pregnancy rumors were fueled by reports of North Korean agents "buying baby clothes and furniture in unusual quantities."
Recent photos showed a "drastically slimmer" Ri, further fanning the flames.
"Is there a littler Kim?" the Daily Mail asked in January.
Kim assumed control after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011.
The report of a baby comes on the heels of Rodman's bizarre trip to North Korea, where he met and dined with the reclusive dictator. Rodman also attended an exhibition basketball game where he sat next to Kim, who welcomed "The Worm" warmly, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
After the basketball game, Rodman said, he'd told Kim, "You have a friend for life."
[Related: Rodman: Kim Jong Un wants Obama to 'call him']
The flamboyant former NBA star returned to the U.S. with a message from Kim for President Barack Obama. “He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him,” Rodman told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's “This Week” on Sunday. “[Kim] said, ‘If you can, Dennis. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”
Rodman traveled to Pyongyang with members of the Harlem Globetrotters and a Vice magazine camera crew for an upcoming HBO documentary series.
“He loves basketball," Rodman said of Kim. "And I said the same thing, I said, ‘Obama loves basketball.’ Let’s start there.”
Rodman is the first known American to publicly meet with Kim, who has defied U.N. sanctions by continuing to develop North Korea’s missile program since assuming control in 2011.
- Politics & Government
- Kim Jong Il
- Dennis Rodman