What Did Debut of Kim's Daughter Mean?

Kim Jong Un's move could signal break from family's patrilineal rule, pundit says
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2022 8:11 AM CST
In Kim Ju Ae, a Female Successor?
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his daughter at the site of a missile launch at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Friday.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

Speculation is swirling about North Korean leader Kim Jung Un's decision to debut his daughter at Friday's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Photos released Saturday by state media show the father and daughter walking hand in hand next to the huge missile, inspecting the Hwasong-17 with Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju, and then watching the launch from a safe distance, per the Washington Post. Experts say it was the first public appearance for any of Kim's children—believed to include a child, possibly a boy, born around 2010, and another, possibly a girl, born in 2017. It was also the first time any of them had been mentioned by state media, leaving experts guessing at what it all means.

Though the girl was only identified as Kim's "beloved daughter," she is believed to be Kim Ju Ae, about 9 or 10 years old. Retired NBA star Dennis Rodman revealed her name in 2013 after a visit to Pyongyang, where he claimed to have held the "baby." Some say Kim is trying to remind citizens of his bloodline, going back to North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, per CNN. The 38-year-old leader might also be signalling Ju Ae as a possible successor in "a break from the Kim family's patrilineal rule," NK News correspondent Shreyas Reddy tells the Post. Others say the child is meant to reinforce Kim's image as a "father" of the nation and show North Korea's commitment to continue its nuclear weapon program for the benefit of future generations.

That idea is backed by a story published Sunday by state media outlet Rodong Sinmun. In it, a mother praises the launch, noting such weapons mean her children "would never know war," per the Post. "For those thinking #NorthKorea was just upping the ante to re-enter negotiations, this seems to suggest otherwise," tweeted Jenny Town of research group 38 North, per NBC News. "This seems to reinforce the nuke program is here to stay." South Korea's National Intelligence Service had information that Ju Ae was "taller and bigger" than other girls of the same age, per the AP. The images show the girl, wearing a white coat and red shoes, to be only about a head shorter than her father. (More Kim Jong Un stories.)

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