North Korea has not said if he has any siblings. Her age remains a mystery. The world doesn’t even know her name. The bottom line is that she is Kim Jong Un’s “most beloved” daughter.
The young girl, who South Korean officials believe is named Ju Ae and is nine years old, is suddenly featured in North Korean state media alongside her all-powerful father. He recently went to a photo op with Kim to celebrate the successful launch of the country’s most powerful ballistic missile, according to a Korean Central News Agency dispatch published on Sunday.
Despite all the mystery, the events sent clear signals to the North Korean people and the wider world: First, the Kim regime is here to stay. Second, the ruling family will not bargain away its nuclear weapons anytime soon.
Both points were driven home when Kim brought his daughter to watch the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile believed to be capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads anywhere on US soil. Photos released by state media include Kim looking down as she cradles her baby behind a rocket.
The debut is significant on many levels. While parading heirs in public is a feature of hereditary monarchies around the world, the Kim family has been very reluctant to reveal potential successors during its 75-year reign.
Kim Jong Un didn’t make his official debut until he was 26 years old. Before Zhu Ae appeared on state media for the first time on November 19, North Korea did not even acknowledge that Kim had children. It is not yet known whether the regime sees Kim’s “precious child” as his successor, or if that title belongs to his rumored older brother.
“The optics of Kim and his daughter watching the launch together underscores recent news that the nuclear program is no longer conditional, and part of this success now includes the next generation,” said Jenny Town, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center. In Washington. In September, Kim told North Korean lawmakers he would “never give up” his nuclear arsenal, while introducing legislation that would allow for “automatic” strikes if his leadership is threatened.
Since seizing power a decade ago at the age of 27, Kim has defied predictions that his regime would collapse. Instead, he boasts an increasingly diverse arsenal designed to target the United States and its allies in Japan and South Korea. Reports involving Kim’s daughter also suggest she has an heir to claim them.
KCNA quoted Sunday as saying, “History teaches us that only if we become strong in today’s world, where the strength of conflict determines success, can we protect the present and future of the country and the nation.”
The NIS believes Kim may have wanted to reassure the public that he was responsible for “the safety of future generations,” South Korean lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum told reporters after a closed-door conference with the National Intelligence Service last week. He said the agency believes Ju Ae is the second of three children between Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju.
“Under the North Korean regime, the status of Kim’s children can be compared to that of a prince or princess in a dynastic system,” said Cheong Cheong-sang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute outside Seoul.
North Korea’s ability to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies in Asia has grown under Kim Jong Un, prompting calls to declare Pyongyang a nuclear-armed state and reverse the decades-old U.S. policy of never allowing it to do so. , while seeking a complete, verifiable and irreversible end to its nuclear arsenal.
Kim has ignored US calls to return to denuclearization talks that have been stalled for more than three years.
Joo Ae’s debut is just the latest example of Kim’s willingness to share the spotlight with prominent women. In addition to frequent appearances with his wife, he has made his sister, Kim Yo Jong, the face of the regime’s response to the United States and South Korea. He recently appointed Cho Son Hui as the country’s first female foreign minister.
However, it is too early to say whether Kim Jong Un intends to make Joo Ae his legitimate successor. Such a move would face opposition from the country’s male-dominated political elite, said Rachel Minhyong Lee, regional issues manager for the Vienna-based Open Nuclear Network.
“Even if Kim is willing to appoint a female successor, there won’t be people around him, and he can’t ignore the views of the country’s top leadership,” said Lee, who previously worked as an open-source analyst for the CIA. . “North Korea is a very traditional and conservative society, and Kim may not believe that a female successor can lead the male-dominated party, government and military without jeopardizing regime security.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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