SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The North Korean leader took his daughter to a meeting with missile specialists in his second public appearance, during which state media called her a “child.” Most Beloved” by Kim Jong Un, deepening the outside debate over whether she is primed as his successor.
The daughter, believed to be Kim’s second child named Ju Ae and aged around 9 or 10, was first unveiled to the outside world last weekend in photos from state media showing her observing the launch of the Northern Intercontinental Ballistic Missile the day before with her parents and other older people. officials. The girl wearing a white puffy coat and red shoes was shown walking hand-in-hand with Kim past a massive missile loaded onto a launch truck and watching a weapon hover.
On Sunday, Northern state media mentioned her for the second time, saying she and Kim took group photos with scientists, technicians, officials and other workers involved in what they called the test launch of his ICBM Hwasong-17.
KCNA described her as Kim’s “most beloved” or “precious” child, a more honorary title than her previous description of the child “(Kim’s beloved)” in its Nov. 19 dispatch. He also posted a slew of photos showing the girl in a long black coat with a black fur collar, holding her father’s arm.
Some photos showed the two of them standing in the middle of a line of uniformed soldiers in front of a massive missile atop a launch truck. Others showed Kim’s daughter clapping or talking to her dad as people cheered in the background.
Taking after her mother Ri Sol Ju, who was not visible in any of the photos on Sunday, she looked more mature than when she was unveiled a week ago.
“It is certainly striking. The photograph of Kim Ju Ae standing alongside her father while being celebrated by technicians and scientists involved in the latest ICBM launch would support the idea that this is the beginning of her position as a potential successor,” said Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“State media highlighting her father’s love for her further underscores that, I think. Finally, her first two public appearances were in the context of strategic nuclear weapons – the crown jewels of national defense capabilities. of North Korea. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me,” Panda said.
After her first public appearance, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers it believed the girl pictured was Kim’s second child, who is around 10 and is named Ju Ae. The National Intelligence Service said her appearance matched reports that she was taller and taller than other girls of the same age. He also said his unveiling appeared to reflect Kim’s determination to protect the security of future generations of North Korea in the face of a standoff with the United States.
South Korean media previously speculated that Kim had three children – born in 2010, 2013 and 2017 – and the first child was a son while the third was a daughter. The unveiled girl is most likely the child retired NBA star Dennis Rodman saw during his trip to Pyongyang in 2013. After that visit, Rodman told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that he and Kim spent a “relaxing time by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he was holding Kim’s baby girl, named Ju Ae.
North Korea made no mention of the other two children reported by Kim. But speculation that her eldest child is a son 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 ruled North Korea for more than seven decades, and his father and grandfather successively ruled the country before inheriting power in late 2011.
“We were 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, Ju Ae is really Kim’s most “valuable” from an estate perspective? said Soo Kim, a security analyst at California-based RAND Corporation. “I think it’s too early to draw conclusions.”
She said Kim Jong Un might think the unveiling of his daughter is an effective distraction while conditioning Washington, Seoul and others to live with the North Korean nuclear threat, as “Ju Ae’s spectacle seems to overshadow the seriousness growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea”. She added that by parading his daughter, Kim Jong Un could also be telling his people that nuclear weapons are the only guarantor of the country’s future.
In remarks during the group photo session, Kim Jong Un called the recently tested Hwasong-17 a “great strategic force entity” and ordered officials to further strengthen the country’s military capability to make it a “more absolute and irreversible”. The North’s launch of the Hwasong-17 was part of a barrage of missile tests it said were intended to issue a warning about US-South Korean military drills it sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said Kim Jong Un cannot make his son his successor if he thinks he lacks leadership. Cheong said that Kim could prevent a possible refusal to choose a girl as the fourth generation leader, so he probably brought her to a successful ICBM launch event to help the public’s loyalty to him continue. gently with his daughter.
“When a king has many children, it is natural for him to make his most beloved child his successor,” Cheong said. “Kim Ju Ae should occasionally appear at Kim Jong Un’s public events and undergo relief training.”
Revealing young Ju Ae came as a huge surprise to foreign pundits, as Kim Jong Un and his father Kim Jong Il were both first mentioned in state media dispatches after they became adults. Cheong, however, said Kim Jong Il thought of Kim Jong Un as his heir when his son was 8 years old. Cheong cited his conversations with Kim Jong Un’s aunt and her husband, who defected to the United States.
The fact that the South Korean spy agency said that Ju Ae was around 10 years old despite being born in 2013 could be linked to the country’s age calculation system which generally increases people’s ages. one or two years.