Kim Jong Un reveals his daughter to the world in the latest ballistic missile launch

Experts say the photos of Kim and his daughter are meant for elite consumption, and may symbolize Kim grooming his daughter to be the next Supreme Leader STR/AFP – Getty Images

STR/AFP – Getty Images

It’s hard to beat a new ballistic missile with a range of the entire United States. But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did just that with a surprise test-launch guest: his little-known daughter.

Kim revealed his daughter to the world for the first time on Saturday in photos showing the couple holding hands at a missile launch site, an unexpected appearance that raises the prospect of a fourth generation of Kim assuming leadership of the secretive country — and its emergence. Growing nuclear arsenal.

North Korean state media said Kim watched the country’s launch of the new intercontinental ballistic missile with his wife, Ri Sol-ju, other officials and his “beloved daughter” on Friday.

Kim said the launch of the nuclear-capable Hwasong-17 proved to be a reliable weapon to contain US-led military threats, and the US responded by flying hypersonic bombers in a show of force.

It was the latest escalation in months of provocations from Pyongyang, but attention has suddenly focused on the daughter whose existence has never been publicly confirmed before.

North Korean newspaper Rodong Simon revealed a series of photos of Kim and his daughter, wearing a puffy white coat and red shoes, observing the flying missile from a distance with her father.

State media did not mention the girl’s name or disclose her age. This is the first confirmed public appearance of the North Korean leader’s child, whose personal life remains shrouded in mystery.

North Korean state media reported that Kim attended the missile launch with his wife and “beloved daughter”.

STR/AFP – Getty Images

Kim Jong Un, 38, is the third generation of the Kim dynasty to rule the reclusive country, but he has not publicly announced an heir, making the identities of his children a source of strong outside interest. Kim is believed to have fathered three children, born between 2010 and 2017, with his wife, Ri, a former singer.

In 2013, retired NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim fathered a “baby girl” named Ju Ae, with whom he spent time on vacation at the seaside with the Kim family. It was not immediately clear who the child appeared in the photos.

“This is the first time we’ve seen Kim Jong Un’s daughter at a public event,” Michael Madden, an expert on North Korean leadership at the Stimson Center, told Reuters. “It’s very important and a certain degree of relief on Kim Jong-un’s part that he’s going to make it public in this way.”

Some analysts pointed out that his daughter’s close attachment to the development of the country’s nuclear program was the latest signal to the world that North Korea had no plans to give up its arsenal.

Jenny Towne of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korean research organization, said on Twitter that the photos were “optics for a legacy.”

For those who think #North Korea He was only raising the stakes to return to negotiations, and this seemed to indicate otherwise. And just as statements about the nuclear program are no longer conditional – this seems to reinforce the nuclear program remaining.

Friday’s launch was North Korea’s eighth intercontinental ballistic missile launch this year, with the leadership vowing “ferocious” military responses to bolster the US military presence in the region.

STR/AFP – Getty Images

However, there may also be a domestic purpose behind the big reveal.

Including his wife, especially his daughter, “soften” the picture at least [maybe] for the local audience,” John Delory, professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, added on Twitter. This is not a warmonger or a narcissistic little rocket man. “He’s a good father, he’s protective of his family, like he’s protecting the nation,” Delory said.

Kim’s cult of personality has always relied on the image of senior leaders as the “fathers” of the nation. Publicity photos of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea, frequently depict him alongside children. Candy and sweet gifts are often distributed to children on the leader’s birthday, resources permitting.

However, Kim Jong-un rarely refers to his family.

In 2020, US officials and South Korean media speculated that Kim went through a period of ill health after undergoing heart surgery. North Korea has never announced who will follow Kim if he becomes incapacitated, with analysts theorizing that his sister and loyalists could form a regency until a successor in his direct line is old enough to take over.

Bringing his daughter to the missile test site is a move for an “elite audience,” Madden told Reuters, potentially introducing the fourth generation of hereditary succession.

Kim and his daughter, whose name and age were not disclosed, watched the missile fly together from a safe distance.

STR/AFP – Getty Images

Friday’s launch followed another failed launch in early November. On Thursday, North Korea vowed a “more aggressive” military response to Washington’s beefed-up security presence in the region.

The Japanese defense minister said that the missile has the ability to reach anywhere in the United States.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is in Bangkok for a regional forum, said the launch was a “flagrant violation” of UN Security Council resolutions, and called on North Korea to “stop further illegal, destabilizing actions”.

Friday’s family affair was North Korea’s eighth ICBM launch this year, according to the State Department.

South Korean and US officials now say North Korea is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017 and a significant escalation of tensions with Washington and its allies.