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Kim Jong-un’s daughter appears in public again and stirs the debate over the succession in North Korea

The daughter of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared before the public again, this time along with missile scientists and more honorary titles as “the dearest” or “precious” daughter of her father. She’s only about 10 years old, but bold new photos of her deepen the debate about whether she’s being groomed as her successor.

The girl, believed to be Kim’s second child called Ju Ae and who would be between 9 and 10 years old, was first introduced to the outside world last weekend in state media photos showing her watching the launch of an ICBM from the North with her parents and other officials.

The young woman wore a white coat and red shoes as she walked hand in hand with Kim past a huge missile loaded onto a launch truck.

North Korea’s Central News Agency mentioned her for the second time, saying she and Kim took group photos with scientists, officials and others involved. in what he called the test launch of his ballistic missile intercontinental Hwasong-17.

The news agency described her as Kim’s “most loved” or “precious” child, a more honorific title than her previous description of “(Kim’s) beloved girl” in his office on November 19. Photos released by state media showed the daughter in a long black coat holding her father’s arm as the two posed for a photo.

They were both following their mother Ri Sol Ju, who was not visible in any of the photos from Sunday. The girl had a more mature appearance than her at her presentation a week ago.

An undated photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency on November 27, 2022 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with his daughter. Photo EFE

Some photos showed the father and daughter standing in the middle of a line of uniformed soldiers in front of a huge missile on a launch truck. Others exhibited Kim’s daughter clapping, exchanging handshakes with a soldier or talking to his father while people cheered in the background.

The succession

“This is certainly striking. The photo of Kim Ju Ae standing next to her father while the technicians and scientists involved in the latest ICBM launch would support the idea that this is the beginning of her position. as possible successorsaid Ankit Panda, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“I think the state media highlighting her father’s love for her further underlines this. Finally, her initial two public appearances have been in the context of strategic nuclear weapons, the crown jewels of North Korea’s national defense capabilities. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence to mePanda said.

After her first public appearance, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers it had assessed that the girl in the photo is Kim’s second daughter, who is about 10 years old and whose name is Ju Ae. The National Intelligence Service said her appearance matched information that she is taller and bigger than other girls of the same age.

He also maintained that his performance seemed to reflect Kim’s determination to protect the safety of future generations of North Korea facing a confrontation with the United States.

South Korean media previously speculated that Kim has three children, born in 2010, 2013 and 2017, and that the first child is a boy, while the third is a daughter. The revealed daughter is most likely the girl that retired NBA star Dennis Rodman saw during his 2013 trip to Pyongyang.

After that visit, Rodman told the British newspaper Guardian that he and Kim had a “relaxing moment by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he was holding Kim’s little daughter, named Ju Ae.

North Korea has not mentioned Kim’s two other children. But speculation that her eldest child is a boy has led some experts to question how a daughter can be Kim’s successor given the deeply male-dominated and patriarchal nature of North Korean society.

Kim is a third-generation member of the family that has run North Korea for more than seven decades, with his father and grandfather successively ruling the country before inheriting power in late 2011.

An undated photo published by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 27, 2022. photo EFE

An undated photo published by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 27, 2022. photo EFE

“We have been told that Kim has three children, including possibly a son. If this is true, and if we assume that the male child, who has not yet been revealed, will be the heir, Is Ju Ae truly the most “precious” of Kim?from a succession standpoint?” said Soo Kim, a security analyst at the California-based RAND Corporation. “I think it’s too early to draw any conclusions.”

The expert estimated that Kim Jong-un may think that the presentation of his daughter is an effective distraction while conditioning Washington, Seoul and others to live with North Korea’s nuclear threat, as “the Ju Ae spectacle seems to dwarf the increasing severity of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.”

He added that by parading his daughter, Kim Jong Un may also want to tell his people that nuclear weapons they are the only guarantee for the future of the country.


In comments carried by state media on Sunday, Kim called the Hwasong-17 “the world’s most powerful strategic weapon” and said his country’s ultimate goal is to possess “the most powerful strategic force in the world”.

Experts say the Hwasong-17 is North Korea’s longest-range missile, designed to attack the continental United States, but it is still under development. Its launch was part of a barrage of missile tests that North Korea says were aimed at issuing a warning about US and South Korean military exercises it views as an invasion test.

Kim may be signaling to other North Korean elites that he is advising his daughter. for a role in leadership”said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Giving such an early and public start is unusual, but it reflects the historical and political importance that Kim attaches to a nuclear missile that can reach the United States,” he added.

Kim Jong-un cannot make his son his successor if he believes he lacks leadership.  Photo EFE

Kim Jong-un cannot make his son his successor if he believes he lacks leadership. Photo EFE

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said that Kim Jong-un You can’t make your son your successor if you think he lacks leadership.

Cheong reckoned that Kim may be avoiding potential rejection by choosing a daughter as fourth-generation leader, which is probably why he brought her to a successful ICBM launch event to help convey public loyalty to him without fail. trouble for your daughter.

“When a king has many sons, it is natural for him to make his most beloved son his successorCheong said. “Kim Ju Ae is expected to occasionally appear at Kim Jong Un’s public events and take succession training.”

Revealing the young Ju Ae came as a big surprise to foreign experts, as both Kim Jong-un and his father, Kim Jong Il, were first mentioned in state media dispatches after they became adults.

Cheong, however, said that Kim Jong Il had Kim Jong-un in mind as his heir. when his son was 8 years old. Cheong cited her conversations with Kim Jong Un’s aunt and her husband, who both defected to the United States.

The fact that the South Korean spy agency said that Ju Ae is around 10 years old despite being born in 2013 could be related to the country’s age calculation system that generally makes people age as one or two years older.

PA Agency


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