SEOUL, South Korea (TBEN) — North Korea has unveiled its leader Kim Jong-un’s little-known daughter at a missile launch site, drawing major attention for a fourth-generation member of the dynastic family that has held North Korea for more than a decade. than seven decades.
The north’s state media said on Saturday that Kim observed the launch of his new type of intercontinental ballistic missile the previous day with his wife Ri Sol Ju, their “beloved daughter” and other officials. Kim said the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile – the North’s largest nuclear-capable missile – proved he has a reliable weapon to counter US-led military threats.
The main newspaper Rodong Sinmun has also released a slew of photos of Kim watching a rising rocket from a distance with his daughter. In other photos, she was seen with her hair combed back, in a white coat and a pair of red shoes, walking hand in hand with her father near a huge rocket atop a launch vehicle.
It is the first time North Korean state media has mentioned the daughter or published her photos. KCNA has not provided any further details about her such as her name and age.
Much of Kim’s private life is still unknown. But South Korean media reported that Kim married Ri, a former singer, in 2009 and the couple has three children who were born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.
It was unknown which child Kim took to the launch site. But in 2013, after a trip to Pyongyang, retired NBA star Dennis Rodman told British newspaper The Guardian that he and Kim had a “relaxing time by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he was expecting Kim’s baby daughter, named Ju Ae, held.
The identity of Kim’s children is a source of great outside interest, as the 38-year-old ruler has not yet publicly anointed an heir to the throne.
When he disappeared from the public eye for an extended period of time in 2020 amid unconfirmed rumors of health problems, the global media frenzy flared over who was next in line to lead an impoverished but nuclear-armed country. Many observers at the time said Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, would step in and run the country if her brother was incapacitated.
The Kim family has ruled North Korea with a strong personality built around important family members since Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded the country in 1948. The family’s so-called Paektu bloodline, named after the North’s most sacred mountain, allows only immediate relatives to rule the land.
“It is much too early to conclude anything about succession within the Kim regime,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. the family business of governing North Korea with the country’s missile programs.”
“This may be an attempt to compensate for what little economic performance Kim has to bolster his domestic legitimacy,” Easley said.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of South Korea’s private Sejong Institute said if Kim continues to bring this daughter to important public events, it could be a signal that she would become Kim’s successor.
“Under North Korea’s system, Kim Jong-un’s children would have the status of prince or princess, as in a dynasty. As the Rodong Sinmnum newspaper published the photo of the daughter, who looked so much like Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju… she has no choice but to live a special life,” Cheong said.
Other observers say Kim taking his family to a missile test site indicated that he was confident in the weapon’s successful launch, or that he would have tried to polish up an image as a normal leader, including his family in his affairs.
The reveal of the Kim family’s child has surprised many viewers of North Korea.
It wasn’t until 2010 that Kim, then 26, was first publicly mentioned in the state media as he held a series of top positions before inheriting power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il the following year. Kim Jong Il was also 31 when he took a key position in the ruling Workers’ Party in 1973 – an appointment seen as an important step towards succeeding his father Kim Il Sung. The position of Kim Jong Il as successor was announced at the party congress in 1980.
But Cheong said Kim Jong Il privately told his associates in 1992 that Kim Jong Un, his third and youngest son, would succeed him. Cheong said that Kim and her husband’s aunt, who had defected to the United States, told him that a song was played praising Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Il said that Kim Jong Un was his successor on the 8th birthday of his son.
“Kim Jong Un may have his daughter, who is most like him in mind, as his successor,” Cheong said.