CNN reported that the girl, believed to be Kim Ju-ae, Kim Jong-un’s second child, about nine years old, joined the North Korean leader and his wife to attend a lavish party at a military barracks. team in Pyongyang on the evening of February 7.
A day later, she stood on the stage watching at least 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) parade through Kim Il Sung Square in the North Korean capital.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said: “By introducing both his wife and daughter, Kim Jong-un wants domestic and foreign observers to see his ruling family and North Korea’s military has an irrevocable relationship.”
Kim Jong-un’s family leadership of the country dates back to 1948, when Chairman Kim Il-sung came to power after World War II.
When leader Kim Il-sung died in 1994, his son Kim Jong-il took over – and when Kim Jong-il died, in December 2011, his son Kim Jong-un took over from his father. leadership position in the country.
Western observers believe that Kim Jong-un has three children and Ju-ae is the middle child, although this cannot be verified by anyone outside of North Korea.
North Korean media reporting on military events this week have described Kim Ju-ae as the “respected” and “beloved” son of Chairman Kim Jong-un.
After visiting Pyongyang in 2013, American basketball star Dennis Rodman once revealed that the North Korean leader had a daughter named Ju-ae. “I held their baby Ju-ae and also talked to Mrs. Kim,” Mr Rodman said at the time.
The age of the baby Rodman is holding appears to coincide with the age of the girl who appeared alongside the North Korean leader at events this week.
Is it too early to introduce a successor?
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said there is historical precedent for the Kim family to determine a successor very early, because that’s what his father, Kim Jong-il, did with you.
Mr. Cheong said: “It is reported that Kim Jong-il told his aides that Kim Jong-un would be his successor when he sang a song called ‘Following’ on the anniversary of his second birthday. 8 of the son. However, Mr. Cheong added that the outside world was not aware of this at the time. “Back then, rumors and speculation circulated for a long time that Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, or second son, Kim Jong-chol, would be the successor.” , expert Cheong said.
Since when did Kim Ju-ae get attention?
Speculation that Kim Ju-ae would be the successor surfaced last November when state media published pictures of the little girl and her father inspecting a North Korean ballistic missile before a test launch.
After the test launch, South Korean lawmaker and secretary of the National Intelligence Service Yoo Sang-bum said the girl was believed to be Ju-ae.
Next, North Korean state media ran a story later that month with photos of Kim Jong-un and his daughter, describing her as his “most beloved” child.
Photos in North Korean media also show the girl visiting a rocket factory with her father near the end of 2022.
Expert Cheong said that Kim Ju-ae’s appearance at recent events and the way she is mentioned in state media shows that she is being prepared for the journey to succeed her father. me.
Cheong also commented that the Rodong Sinmun of the Workers’ Party of Korea mentioned Ju-ae’s name before her mother’s name in its articles, and used the adjectives “beloved” and “respected” to describe her. convey the special status for the little girl.
“The beginnings of a cult of personality for Kim Ju-ae shows that, although she has not been given the status of an official successor, she has in fact been designated as the successor,” he said. Cheong said.
The expert added that if she succeeds her father, Ju-ae will need the support of the military. Therefore, putting her daughter at the center of military events from a young age will allow her to build credibility with the military over time.
However, there is also a different perspective on the appearance of Kim Ju-ae.
Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean general, said the girl’s recent appearances may simply be a way to redirect the world’s attention after a year’s weariness. North Korea’s record missile test.
“I think the North Koreans either discovered it by accident or realized that this is a way to attract international attention,” Chun said.
“Throughout their seven-decade history, their successors have always been a mystery to us. Why are they changing that method now? So if I bet $5, I’d say she’s not the successor,” Chun said.
The display of at least 11 Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during the military parade on the evening of February 8 shows that the North Korean military is following the call of Chairman Kim Jong-un by the end of 2022. about “exponentially increasing” the country’s nuclear arsenal in response to what he claimed were threats from South Korea and the United States.
Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on social media that if each of those missiles were armed with multiple nuclear warheads, they could be massive enough to overwhelm the US ballistic missile defense system.
Following the Hwasong-17s during the military parade last night was an ICBM that analysts believe has been designed to operate on solid fuel – a step up in technology over the fuel-powered Hwasong-17. liquid material.
Liquid rockets take longer to prepare for launch; Solid-fuel rockets can be ready in a matter of seconds.
“If true, this missile gives North Korea greater mobility, flexibility, and lethality,” said former South Korean General Chun. would give Pyongyang “the ability to strike an adversary with very, very little warning.”