What we know about Kim Jong Un’s daughter who made her first public appearance at a missile launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday. But this is not what caught the attention of the world. The fact that Kim was holding hands with his daughter made more headlines than the actual launch.

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirmed on Saturday that Kim Jong Un attended the launch of the ICBM “together with his beloved daughter and wife.”

For a person who has kept his personal life behind the curtain, Kim’s daughter, who has not been named by KCNA, tagging along with her father has been seen as an important development in North Korea’s political future.

The pictures released by KCNA mark the first official confirmation of the existence of the North Korean leader’s daughter. This is the first time she made a public appearance.

On Friday, North Korea launched an ICBM called ‘Hwason-17’. The missile travelled for 1,000 km before it landed 200 km west of Oshima-Oshima Island in Japan.

Kim’s daughter was photographed in a white puffy coat holding hands with her father as they inspected the launch.

Let’s take a closer look.

First mentioned by US basketball star

They say never to mix your work life with your personal life. Kim Jong Un takes this very seriously because there is very little known about his private life.

But in 2013, when former basketball star Dennis Rodman met Kim he mentioned his wife and his daughter.

Rodman told The Guardian that he spent time with the Jong Un family and that Kim had a “baby” named “Ju Ae”.

“I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms Ri as well”, he said.

What we know about Kim Jong Uns daughter who made her first public appearance today

Kim Jong Un with his wife Ri and daughter Ju Ae. AFP

Perhaps impressed by Kim’s parenting skills, Rodman described him as a “good dad”.

Back in 2012, speculations about Ri being pregnant sprang up after a photo that showed her wearing a long coat was making rounds and it was believed that she wore it to hide her baby bump.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, by the looks of it, Ju Ae is estimated to be around 12 or 13 years of age.

Kim and his wife Ri are believed to have three children, two girls and a boy. Some observers even believe that one of these children was seen in footage during a national holiday in September.

‘North Korean regime is here to stay’

Analysts and experts believed that Ju Ae’s public appearance was not just a coincidence and that Kim Jong Un might have planned it for a long.

Soo Kim, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told AFP, “To introduce his daughter to the world at this juncture could be designed to send an international message that the North Korean regime is here to stay.”

“In a way, it’s a symbolic picture of Kim passing the sceptre of the rule to the next generation. The photos also suggest a degree of closeness and comfort between Kim and his daughter”, which could indicate that she is being groomed for future leadership,” added Soo Kim.

While others think that bringing his daughter and wife to the launch might also be a part of Pyongyang’s – the political centre of North Korea—plan of depicting Kim as a “normal” leader.

What we know about Kim Jong Uns daughter who made her first public appearance today

Experts believe Kim’s daughter is 12 or 13 years old. AFP

North Korean studies scholar Ahn Chan-il said, “Pyongyang seems to be trying to brand itself as a ‘normal’ nation – while conducting these ICBM launches that show off its military prowess – by showing images of Kim being a seemingly loving father.”

He added, “It is also a gesture of stabilising the regime by declaring to the outside world that it is now heading for its fourth-generation succession and that it is well-prepared for it.”

According to a report by BBC, Ju Ae’s appearance might also be a hint that she has been chosen as her father’s successor, since the political power of the country has always been exercised by the family, meaning that Kim will want one of his children to take over.

Michael Madden, a North Korean expert from the Stimson Centre in Washington believed that Ju Ae’s public appearance could be her father’s way of showing “that the fourth generation of power succession is going to come through my bloodline.”

Some experts have also pointed out that by unveiling her daughter at such an important launch suggests that she will one day play a role in further developing the country’s military weapons.

According to BBC, recently Kim announced that under no circumstance would he give up his nuclear weapons. Therefore, his daughter’s appearance is a way of showing the world that his nukes are here to stay and will be managed by the next generation.

What are Kim’s succession plans?

The North Korean leader has made sudden disappearances in the past few years which has raised questions about his succession plans.

According to a report by Reuters, Pyongyang has not officially announced Kim’s successor yet, analysts say that her sister, Kim Yo Jong along with his loyalists are ready to form a regency until a successor is ready to take over.

These speculations gained ground when in 2020, Kim missed a key state anniversary event on 15 April and rumours of him being seriously ill or possibly dead spread like wildfire.

With inputs from agencies

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