The future leadership of North Korea looked a little clearer today, after reports emerged that Kim Jong-un became a father late last year.
After months of speculation, South Korean officials reportedly told local media that they were now certain that North Korea’s first lady Ri Sol-ju gave birth to a child at the end of 2012.
One South Korean government source apparently told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper that it is likely that Ri was induced into labour early in order for the baby to be born in 2012 - a hugely symbolic year for North Korea as it marks what would have been the 100th birthday of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung.
Although it has not been confirmed whether the child is male or female, the lack of an official announcement from the North Korean leadership has led some to believe the baby is a girl.
The Daily Telegraph reported Michael Madden, editor of the North Korea Leadership Watch newsletter, as saying “If it was a boy they’d have made an announcement”.
Rumours of Ri Sol-ju’s pregnancy emerged last year after the former pop star was pictured with what appeared to be a small baby bump.
Every photo that has subsequently emerged of Kim Jong-un’s wife has been meticulously analysed by South Korean media for further evidence of the pregnancy, with recent shots of her wearing close-fitting skirts considered conclusive proof that she had given birth.
The apparent birth of Kim Jong-un’s child marks the beginning of a fourth generation of North Korea’s hereditary leadership.
Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il led the country until his death in 2011, having succeeded his own father Kim Il-sung in 1994.