The sister of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un has reportedly reappeared in public after two months out of the public eye.
Kim Yo-jung, 28, was photographed accompanying her older brother as he inspected a tree nursery operated by the army, South Korea’s Yonhap news reported.
The South Korean news site claimed that images of Kim’s sister, appearing slimmer than her past appearances and wearing a knee-length black dress with a fur collar, had prompted speculation she had recently given birth to her first child.
Little is known about Kim’s sister, born to Kim Jong-il’s fourth wife Ko Yong-hui. South Korea’s intelligence agency claims she married a former classmate from Kim Il-sung University. Her baby was expected in May.
She was last seen in April when she accompanied her brother and inspected a construction project at Pyongyang airport.
North Korea's worst human rights abuses
North Korea's worst human rights abuses
A UN report said that policies leading to mass starvation in North Korea amounted to crimes against humanity. Deaths peaked during the 1990s North Korean famine.
Defence minister Hyon Yong Chol is believed to be the latest official executed after falling foul of Kim Jong-un. As well as gruesome public executions, thousands of people have been killed in state 'purges' and for alleged anti-state crimes
Torture is prevalent in prison camps, as well as in police and security service custody.
4/11 Freedom of religion
American missionary Kenneth Bae was one of the many people detained after trying to practice their religion. The DPRK Constitution claims to protect freedom of religion but not if it as alleged of being used a a pretext for 'drawing in foreign forces or for harming the state and social order'. Christianity is frequently considered a political crime
5/11 Freedom of expression
All media is tightly-state controlled and expressing facts of opinions critical of the government or Juche ideology can lead to arrest and imprisonment. As well as being under extensive surveillance, people are encouraged to 'inform' on friends and neighbours
6/11 Freedom of thought
A UN report found that the 'DPRK operates an all-encompassing indoctrination machine which takes root from childhood to propagate an official personality cult and to manufacture absolute obedience to the Supreme Leader, effectively to the exclusion of any independent thought from the official ideology and state propaganda'
7/11 Forced labour
Prisoners are subjected to forced labour in camps, including children as young as five. Some workers are also reportedly being sent abroad to fund the government's projects
8/11 Sexual discrimination
Although women are permitted to serve in the military, their role is restrained by the Juche ideology and the UN reports that 'discrimination against women remains pervasive in all aspects of society'
9/11 Freedom of movement
Freedom of movement is severely restricted within North Korea and very few citizens are allowed to leave the country. Immigrants found in China can be forcible repatriated and punished on their return. The right for foreigners to enter is also severely restricted.
10/11 Prison camps
Many of the worst abuses reported take place at prison camps, some specifically for political crimes. The camps officially do not exist but have been photographed using satellite. Inmates are 'forcibly disappeared' and usually imprisoned until death
11/11 Reproductive rights
Forced abortions have been reported for imprisoned women, often after being raped by guards. Mothers and babies frequently die in childbirth because of a lack of adequate care, often delivering babies unaided at home.
It has been suggested Kim, who studied in Switzerland at the same time as her brother, is Kim’s closest confidante, working alongside him as deputy director of the Worker’s Party.
The position was formerly held by her uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was publicly executed for crimes against the state two years ago.
Her role reportedly consists of highlighting similarities between her brother and their grandfather Kim Il-sung, who remains an integral part of state propaganda.
A spokesperson at North Korea’s London embassy declined to comment on the photographs.