She wears glasses, usually wears a subtle blazer dress and is always armed with a black handbag. A woman whose identity has so far been a mystery has been sighted alongside North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un for months.
Photos and videos from the state-controlled media show the unknown sometimes next to Kim, sometimes more in the background. However, her presence at important parliamentary meetings and proximity to other high-ranking leaders suggest that the woman is now part of the dictator's inner circle - fueling speculation about the connection between the two.
Last week she made two public appearances: First, the woman accompanied Kim with folders under her arm to his speech on Thursday before the Supreme People's Assembly, in which he announced that North Korea would never give up its nuclear weapons and missiles. A day later, she took part in a big outdoor concert alongside the ruler and his sister Kim Yo-jong - who is considered the secret number two in the country.
In February, the US website "NK News", which reports intensively and critically on North Korea, was the first international medium to become aware of the new woman in Kim's circle. At that time she brought the ruler's speech to the stage. "She was usually seen with a purse that may have contained items that the North Korean leader needs on-call at all times, such as his phone, cigarettes or medicine," writes NK News, which has since followed her public appearances. The news site estimates that the woman is in her 30s to 40s and speculates that she may even be personally related to Kim.
The Kim Dynasty, founded by Kim Il-sung in 1948, has ruled North Korea for three generations. In the past, there were rarely women in management positions. That has changed under the reigning dictator Kim Jong-un since 2011, who has filled several powerful official and unofficial posts with women. At the beginning of the year, he appointed Choe Son-hui, the country's first female foreign minister. In 2018, he also bestowed the title of "Respected First Lady" on his wife, Ri Sol-ju, which North Korea experts say is a big leap in her political status.
The most prominent example, however, is his sister Kim Yo-jong, who is considered the ruler's closest advisor and now also represents him on the international stage. Last year, her brother appointed her to the state's highest decision-making body. Many see the influential woman, estimated to be 34, as the real mastermind behind the carefully constructed propaganda machinery at home and abroad.
Even if the mystery of the mysterious stranger at Kim's side remains unsolved for the time being, one thing is certain. Whoever the woman is, she can't get past his sister.
Sources: NK News, Guardian, The Times, ZDF, with Reuters material