Kim Jong-Un is hours away from his historic meeting with President Trump to try to come to an agreement on North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program and military priorities.
Although there is little evidence that Pyongyang will abandon its nuclear weapons and no sign that the country would “allow economic pressure to get in the way of military priorities,” that hasn’t put a damper on President Trump’s spirits about the summit.
“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
So where is Kim’s wife and family during this historic meeting? Who is all entangled in the mysterious Kim family tree? With an uncle that was executed, and a rebellious half-brother murdered, the Kim family history is rich with controversy. Here what we know about the “supreme leader’s” family:
1. Ri Sol-Ju, Kim’s Wife, Was Believed to be Kim’s Sister or Relative When She Was First Spotted at His Side
GettyRi Sol Ju, Kim Jong Un’s wife and first lady of North Korea.
Ri Sol-Ju, Ri, Kim’s wife, was recently dubbed North Korea’s first lady by state media, and has made “regular appearances at her husband’s side in recent months as relations have warmed between North and South Korea,” CNN reports. History has long kept the wives of Kim’s father and grandfather in the shadows, so Ri’s frequent appearance at Kim’s side is breaking the North Korean norm.
Dubbed Kim’s “mystery woman,” when she was first spotted at Kim’s side, state media did not announce Kim and Ri’s marriage until July 2012, nearly three years after South Korean intelligence agencies believes the wedding actually took place. Before it was confirmed that she was Kim’s wife, state media speculated that she might have been one of Kim’s sisters or relatives who often shy away from the spotlight.
Little is known about Ri’s early life or family. She is believed to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s, and although there is little known about her, experts speculate that Ri was born around 1984 in Chongjin, North Korea’s third largest city, CNN reports. She graduated from Kim Il Sung University, and is the granddaughter or grandniece of Ri Pyong Chol, the former head of the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Forces, according to CNN.
Kim and Ri have three children together, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS). However, only one of their children has been publicly named; NBA star Dennis Rodman, who visited Pyongyang in 2013, said he held Kim’s daughter Ju Ae, USA Today reports.
2. Kim Jong-Nam, Kim’s Half-Brother, Was Assassinated in a Malaysian Airport & Many Believe Kim Jong-Un Ordered the Assassination
GettyKim Jong Nam – pictured above – was once considered the heir apparent to Kim Jong Il, until he fell out of favor. Kim Jong Chul was passed over after that.
Kim Jong-Nam was reportedly assassinated on February 13, 2017 when two women attacked him with VX nerve agent, a lethal chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
Kim Jong-nam was at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur’s main airport preparing to fly to Macau when he was approached by two women, one of whom grabbed him from behind and sprayed his face with an apparently poisonous liquid, according to police and leaked CCTV footage.
Al Jazeera states that the staff later led him to the airport clinic, where a picture released in Malaysian media shows him slumped in a chair. “Kim suffered a seizure and was rushed to hospital but died before he arrived,” Al Jazeera reports.
Multiple suspects were brought in on suspicion of involvement with the assassination, but the trail eventually led to Pyongyang, where a number of theories blossomed involving Kim Jong-Nam’s half-brother, Kim Jong-un.
“One theory said he was a marked man since he criticized the country’s system of hereditary succession to a journalist in 2011, when he said North Korea would need to reform and liberalize like China,” reports Al Jazeera.
Another theory claimed Kim Jong-un was paranoid about his half-sibling posing an (unlikely) threat to his leadership, so Kim Jong-un had his brother killed. Other analysts said the assassination could have been ordered over reports Kim Jong-nam was preparing to defect.
Although the two women who attacked Kim Jong-nam were tried and put to death, many still believe that Kim Jon-un was behind his half-brother’s assassination.
3. Kim Il-Sung Was the First Leader and Founder of the People’s Republic of North Korea
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA: This file picture dated 15 April 1992 shows North Korean President Kim Il-Sung waving during the celebration marking his 80th birthday at Kim Il-Sung stadium in Pyongyang. The Chinese government announced last week it would not send “anyone” to attend Il-Sung’s 92nd anniversary in response to North Korea’s refusal of international nuclear inspections. (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung was the first leader and founder of the People’s Republic of North Korea. After World War II and the the end of the Japanese occupation, “Kim Il Sung was installed by the Soviets as the leader of the newly proclaimed Democratic Republic of North Korea,” NBC News reports.
“Kim Il-sung is referred to as the ‘Ever-Victorious Generalissimo’ or ‘The Great Sun of Life.’ He’s credited to enforcing the North Korean ideology, ‘juche,’ which refers to national self-reliance, isolationism and fierce patriarchy,” according to the Herald Sun.
The country has more than 500 statues of his likeness, as he reigned supreme from 1948 until he died of a heart attack in 1994, the Herald Sun reports.
Kim Il-sung’s wife Kim Jong-suk was considered “the perfect communist wife,” the Herald Sun reports.
“Not only was she a multiskilled guerilla fighter and a true believer in the revolution, but she also maintained traditionally maternal roles like cooking, cleaning, knitting and of course, obeying Kim Il-sung,” the site reports. She died at 29 years old in 1949, likely from childbirth.
4. Kim Jong-il is Blamed for a “Devastating Famine” that Killed an Estimated 3 Million People & His Brother Was Executed for Treason
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (L) during their meeting in Vladivostok, 23 August 2002. AFP PHOTO/ Alexander NEMENOV. (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER MEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme leader of North Korea, from 1994 to his death in 2011, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father, took over after Kim Il-sung’s death. North Korean lore allegedly believes that the Dear Leader’s birth was “heralded by a double rainbow, a swallow and the appearance of a new star,” according to the Herald Sun.
Kim Jong-il’s is notoriously responsible for North Korea’s poor economic management, and is blamed for a “devastating famine that ripped through the nation from 1994 to 1998,” the Herald Sun reports. Between 240 thousand and 3.5 million people starved to death.
Jang Song-thaek, Jong-il’s brother, was the vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission, and allegedly led the country when Kim Jong-il fell ill.
“A key policy adviser to Kim Jong-un and second in command, Jang Song-thaek was brutally executed on Kim Jong-un’s order after he was stripped of all his posts and expelled from the Workers’ party,” according to the Herald Sun.
He was convicted of treason in 2013. It is believed Jang Song-thaek was executed publicly, by machine guns, and then incinerated with flame throwers, the Herald Sun reports. However, Chinese state media claim that Jang Song-thaek was torn apart by a pack of 120 dogs. Neither type of execution has been confirmed.
5. Kim Jong-un’s Sister Kim Yo Jong is Considered a “Favored Family Member” & The Two Are Very Close
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 09: (EDITORS NOTE: Alternate crop of #916122914) Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, arrives at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Patrick Semansky – Pool /Getty Images)
Kim Yo-Jong is the daughter of Kim Jong-il and Ko Yong-hui, and believed to be the youngest of seven siblings. She was born in 1987 and is the younger sister to Kim Jong-Un.
Not much is known about her, as is common when it comes to members of North Korea’s notoriously secret regime, but she is considered a “favored family member” and occasionally appears as a delegate to high-profile events, such as the Winter Olympics. In Pyeongchang, South Korea during the February Olympic games, Kim Yo Jong shared a historic handshake with South Korean President Moon Jae In, and both broke out in smiles.
Kim Yo-Jong is close to her brother. They spent four years studying together in Switzerland, and some have said that years of isolation together in North Korea brought them closer. They share the same mother.
Kim Jong Un named her the head of the propaganda department of the Worker’s Party of Korea in 2017 and has been heavily involved in North Korean politics.