Speculation over the possibility of North Korea's first couple having a child hit a high point in January, when South Korean media closely analyzed photos of Ri.
Making real sanctions bite would threaten the North Korean regime's stability, and an imploding North Korea could mean refugees flooding across the border, say Chinese scholars.
The fact that North Korea is getting to host well-known personalities from abroad is a PR plus for the regime, say analysts.
Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-un his 'friend for life' after watching the Harlem Globetrotters in the isolated country today.
Despite - or perhaps because of - strong international pressure, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date. Now analysts say that hopes for improved relations are on hold.