Given how frequently North Korea has been in the news lately, it's only natural to have questions about the country's mysterious supreme leader, who rose to power in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. While many aspects of the leader's life are shrouded in secrecy, it was confirmed last year that Kim Jong Un has a baby daughter — and the world learned about her in a pretty bizarre way.
Kim has been married to his wife, Ri Sol-ju, since 2012, according to North Korean state-run media. Very little is known about her (although it has been rumored that she was once a singer or a member of a North Korean pop group), and some have even suggested that her name is a pseudonym. Regardless, her marriage to the country's leader put her right in the middle of the public eye, and she appeared to be pregnant in early 2012. She reportedly disappeared from public view for eight months until she was spotted again with her husband later that year.
In September 2013, U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, who has an unorthodox relationship with Kim and describes the leader as his "friend for life," visited North Korea. Rodman later told The Guardian about his visit, casually letting it slip that he had held Kim's baby, in addition to giving away her name.
Once, Rodman told us something the world didn't know: the name of Kim Jong-un's daughter. Helpful in my book re dictators' families! https://t.co/SBRQ3U9dqe— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) June 12, 2017
"The Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family," Rodman told the British newspaper. "I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms. Ri as well. He's a good dad and has a beautiful family."
Needless to say, the world was shook. Before Rodman's casual announcement, Kim hadn't previously announced or confirmed that his wife had given birth to a child, although it certainly could have been assumed given Sol-ju's eight-month absence from the public eye.
Kim is currently at the center of a major confrontation with the United States, as well as with the international community, over his country's ever-expanding nuclear arsenal. But surprisingly, we know very little about the controversial leader's personal life or family. For example, we don't entirely know exactly how old Kim is, what year he was born, where he attended school, or many other generally routine details about his childhood. His daughter's name is one of the only personal tidbits the world does know — and we have Rodman to thank for that one.