Seoul, South Korea:
Kim Jong Un unveiled the fourth generation of his ruling family on Saturday and appeared in photos with his daughter for the first time, giving analysts a clear indication of his dynastic view of North Korea.
State media never mentioned Kim’s children — the regime hasn’t even officially confirmed they exist — but on Saturday, KCNA reported that Kim, “along with his beloved daughter and wife,” oversaw the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Photos showed a beaming Kim holding hands with an adoring girl in a white puffer jacket and red shoes, walking in front of a giant black and white rocket and appearing to celebrate a successful test.
Kim, the grandson of North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung and the third generation of the Kim family to lead the country, married his wife Ri Sol Ju in 2009, according to the Seoul spy agency.
She gave birth to their first child the following year, and their second and third were born in 2013 and 2017, the agency said.
The only prior confirmation of the children’s existence came from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who brought a quixote north in 2013, claiming he had met Kim’s baby daughter named Ju Ae.
The North Korean leader was “a good father,” Rodman said at the time.
– North Korean ‘princess’ –
The daughter revealed in the photos is believed to be Ju Ae – likely Kim’s second child, Cheong Seong-chang of the Center for North Korea Studies at South Korea’s Sejong Institute told AFP, adding that she is the equivalent belonged to a North Korean “princess”.
Now that her identity has been revealed, she will likely be able to participate in state affairs, he said, and adding her appearance with her father could even indicate she was his anointed successor.
Kim Jong-un’s own father, Kim Jong Il, chose him as his successor to his older children because he was most like him, Cheong said.
“Kim Jong Un may want to do the same with this particular daughter. She may have the qualities that Kim believes are very similar to his own,” he said, adding that if she continued to accompany her father to important events, it would be an indication would be that was the case.
– ‘Next generation’ –
North Korea has fired dozens of ballistic missiles this year, far more than any other year on record.
Japan said Friday’s ICBM launch likely had the range to reach the US mainland.
Introducing Kim’s daughter to the world right now could send a message to the world that the North Korean regime will not disappear, analyst Soo Kim told AFP.
“In a way, it’s a symbolic image of Kim passing the scepter of rule to the next generation,” she said, sending “a message to the international community to accept North Korea’s fourth iteration of terror and warmongering and to to scrap”.
She said the photos also suggest “a certain closeness and comfort between Kim and his daughter,” which could indicate she is being groomed for future leadership.
“The third time is not the charm when it comes to dealing with the Kim family,” she said, adding that the world “needs to think about dealing with the fourth generation” of the regime.
– ‘messed up’ –
The photos may also be part of a carefully staged attempt by Pyongyang to show Kim is a “normal” leader, North Korean scientist Ahn Chan-il told AFP.
“Pyongyang seems to be branding itself as a ‘normal’ nation — as it conducts these ICBM launches that show off its military prowess — by showing images of Kim who is an apparently doting father,” Ahn said.
“It is also a gesture to stabilize the regime by declaring to the outside world that it is now moving towards its fourth-generation succession and is well prepared for it.”
Including his wife in public appearance and ‘especially his daughter’ ‘soften’ the picture, at least [maybe] for domestic audiences,” North Korea expert John Delury wrote on Twitter.
“This is not a warmonger or narcissistic Little Rocket Man. He is a good father, protecting his family as he protects the nation,” he added.
Other analysts said the timing and location of the daughter’s introduction to the world – at an ICBM launch – was troubling.
It’s the “most confused bring-your-kid-to-work day,” US security expert Ankit Panda said on Twitter.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
Featured video of the day
Interrogated by NDTV, Petitioner’s Forced Conversion Walks Away