Tongues had already started wagging about the identity of a mystery woman who has appeared at several functions with him in recent days. His sister? His girlfriend? A secret wife? Could it be a married singer with whom he is having an open affair.

Kim Jong - un accompanied by a mystery woman at a cultural showAFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS

Who IS this femme fatale, dressed in black, accompanying Kim not only to variety shows but symbolically weighty events such as the ceremony commemorating the death anniversary of his late grandfather and father - of - the - nation Kim Il - Sung. In keeping with North Korea’s reputation for secrecy, no one knows for sure.

South Korean media have suggested she is Kim ' s younger sister Yo - Jong, but the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper says the woman pictured in recent days may be Hyon Song - Wol, a famous state singer rumored to be the leader ' s lover. Hyon apparently disappeared from public view in ۲۰۰۶ but was seen on TV again in March, visibly pregnant. Others insisted that the woman must be married to the fledgling leader to have appeared so prominently at his side at state events.

Madame Mystery also popped up at a concert by a national orchestra, and then again at the event that dragged Mickey, Minnie and Winnie into the fray. The characters paraded on a stage as scenes from the Disney classics " Dumbo " and " Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs " were projected on giant screens in the background. A taste for Hollywood and the silver screen must run in the family: Kim’s father, Kim Jong - il, had a huge collections of movies, and harboured a particular taste for Westerns, Japanese monster movies and Elizabeth Taylor.

Pyongyang, of course, has not bought the rights to these universally - known cartoon persona, Walt Disney pointed out. The US State Department also got involved, insisting that Pyongyang must " comply with property rights, " noting at the same time, however, that Washington did not have a diplomatic relationship with North Korea.

So what's next on Kim's social calendar?