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North Korean food shortages clash with first lady’s handbag

Ri Sol-ju carried the expensive purse on a trip to an army unit with her husband, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, seen in this undated picture released by the North’s official news agency in Pyongyang on Aug. 7, 2012.


North Korea's young first lady has been pictured sporting what appears to be a Christian Dior handbag, in stark contrast to widespread shortages elsewhere in the impoverished nation.

Ri Sol-ju, the wife of leader Kim Jong-un, was pictured accompanying him on a "field guidance trip" to an army unit.

It was unclear whether the bag was genuine or an imitation.

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South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said Wednesday it would cost the equivalent of $1,600 in Seoul.

Photos, carried by state television and the official news agency, show the couple applauding while seated together watching outdoor art performances by soldiers.

Ms. Ri is wearing a white dress with a black top and next to her is a small handbag, apparently with the luxury brand's signature "D" metal tag.

The attractive and stylish young woman contrasts sharply with her husband, clad in his customary Mao-style dark suit, and with the army officers in drab olive uniforms and oversized peaked caps.

The photo was carried by state TV Tuesday night but the date of the field guidance trip was unclear.

The secretive communist state, in an unusual move, confirmed last month that Ms. Ri is Mr. Kim's wife.

Recent photos had shown the pair at public events together, sparking speculation about her identity.

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Mr. Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, took over as leader after his father and long-time ruler Kim Jong-il died last December.

Disclosure of his marriage is seen as part of efforts to stress his maturity in a culture that puts high priority on family life.

The country of 24 million has suffered severe food shortages since a famine in the mid-1990s killed hundreds of thousands.

UN agencies estimated last fall that three million people would need food aid this year.

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