Kim Jong Un’s daughter appears again, fueling succession speculation


The daughter of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a second public appearance with her father days after her father’s first, hinting at an expanded public role for the child and fueling speculation about Kim’s succession plans.

A new set of photographs released by state media on Sunday show daughter Kim posing lovingly next to her father during an incident with North Korean soldiers at an undisclosed location. During the visit, Kim congratulated the troops who took part in the test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

In one image, the father-daughter pair can be seen standing alongside uniformed soldiers in front of a truck loaded with a large missile, which state media said is the Hwasong-17 ICBM. In others, the young child can be seen holding her father’s arm and clapping her hands while smiling.

The photos are the second set of such images to appear in just over a week. The girl’s first public appearance took place on November 18, when she was photographed with her father at a missile test launch site in Pyongyang, after years of secrecy surrounding her existence.

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The North Korean leader showed off his daughter. What could it mean?

Although the child was not named, observers believe it is Kim Ju Ae. Her name was first revealed in 2013 by retired NBA star Dennis Rodman, who said after visiting North Korea he had met the leader’s “baby” daughter.

The Associated Press reported, citing a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed on the assessment, that Seoul’s National Intelligence Service concluded that photos last week showed Ju Ae, the second child of the North Korean leader, and to be about 10 years old.

North Korean state media said on Sunday that Kim and his daughter attended a “historically significant” event with military scientists and factory workers credited with developing the Hwasong-17, the regime’s most powerful ICBM to date. The weapon is designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads and has the ability to reach the East Coast of the United States.

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“When General Secretary Kim Jong Un appeared at the location of the photo session together with his beloved daughter, all the participants broke into stormy cheers of ‘Hurrah!'” the Korean Central News Agency reported, in a news release accompanying photographs. .

Kim has been in power for 11 years and is the third generation of his family to rule the secretive nation since it was founded by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in 1948.

Few confirmed details exist about Kim Jong Un’s private life. South Korean intelligence officials say Kim has two other children. The eldest, a boy, was born around 2010. Even less is known about the other child, who was born around 2017.

His young daughter’s public appearance is a break from the precedent set by his father and grandfather, whose children had not previously made such appearances until after they were designated as successors, noted Rachel Minyoung Lee, an expert in North Korean propaganda.

While the photos have fueled speculation about a possible successor to 38-year-old Kim, who is said to be in “serious” health in 2020, Lee suggests Kim’s decision to reveal his daughter could also be part of a propaganda effort. the leader appears more relatable, revealing a more human and family-oriented side.

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This is not the first time that the leader of North Korea has set aside some of the conventions established by his predecessors. Earlier this year Kim spoke with relative candor in a documentary about the significant challenges facing North Korea, including a food crisis, striking a sense of impending doom never expressed by his father or grandfather.

Kim has also appeared in public with close family members more often than either of his predecessors. Unlike his father – who did not reveal his wife and only appeared in public with his sister later in life – Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, was featured in state media six months after the leader rise to power, and his sister, Kim Mae Yo Jong, one of his main aides, has also played a significant role in public life.

Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Victoria Bisset contributed to this report.


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