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An alternative theory, favored by U.S. analysts, is that the woman is Mr. Kim’s wife or girlfriend.

The Daily JoonAng website, citing unamed South Korean intelligence officials, reported that she is a former North Korean pop singer, Hyon Song-wol, who was the lead vocalist of the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band.

Ms. Hyon has been seen in public once before with Mr. Kim, when he attended a performance where she sang for International Women’s Day on March 8. At that time, she appeared heavily pregnant, the JoonAng said.

South Korean intelligence believes the relationship between Mr. Kim and Ms. Hyon goes back many years and was broken off in the mid-2000s on orders from Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il.

Japanese media later reported Ms. Hyon had married someone else. Some reports said that her husband is a North Korean army officer and that they are still married. After Mr. Kim’s father died suddenly last year, the new leader “rekindled the relationship,” the JoonAng reported.

The uncertainty about the woman’s identity underlines the extent to which North Korea — a country at the center of global concerns about nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation — remains a closed society, with reliable information almost impossible to come by.

For example, no one knows for certain whether Mr. Kim is married or exactly how old he is. Although if estimates that he is in his late 20s are correct, he would be the youngest head of state of a nuclear-armed nation in history.

Neither the State Department nor the CIA would comment this week on whether U.S. officials knew the identity of his presumptive consort.

Cracks in the wall

The information barricade works in both directions. Listening to foreign media is illegal in North Korea, and radios and televisions are sold pre-tuned to state media frequencies and have no dial.

Nonetheless, Mr. Kim seems to know there are cracks in the information wall around the country, where even South Korean soap operas are smuggled in.

“He has now done two things which seem to recognize that information is leaking in from the outside,” Mr. Bennett said, citing the weekend concert that featured costumed Disney dancers and reports by North Korean state media that April’s attempted rocket launch had failed.

“They would never have done that before,” Mr. Bennett said.

On Wednesday, state TV showed footage of Mr. Kim at another concert where a band played a rendition of the theme song from the movie “Rocky IV” while clips showed Sylvester Stallone in the title role boxing against his Cold War Russian rival, Ivan Drago

Some analysts suggested it is significant the North Korean leader should appear to be publicly embracing American icons such as Rocky Balboa and Mickey Mouse — the United States is technically still in a state of war with Pyongyang, after all — but Mr. Lankov played that down.

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