November 21, 2022 09:48
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last Friday took his little daughter to the launch of a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile. This is the first time the girl, who looks about 10 years old, has been seen in public.
Pictures in the state media on Saturday showed Kim hand in hand with the girl at the launch of a Hwasong-17 ICBM, saying Kim observed the launch with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, other officials, and his "beloved daughter."
The official Rodong Shinmun daily said the following day that North Korea is now "the strongest ICBM-possessing country on the planet" and added it will "continue to strengthen nuclear armament to fulfill the dreams of future generations."
The official Korean Central News Agency said that Kim "solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats to [North Korea], frequently introducing nuclear strike means, our party and government will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation."
Kim's younger sister, Yo-jong, is also seen weeping at the launch and his wife clasping her hands with excitement.
South Korean intelligence sources said the photo op seems to show that Kim means to cling to power and hand it to the next generation in the ruling dynasty. When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang in April of 2018, Kim said, "I do not want my children to burdened by nuclear weapons," but that has clearly been forgotten.
In September, the North enshrined the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in law. Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said Kim "maximized the propaganda effect of the successful launch of the ICBM and the regime's confidence by revealing his young daughter."
According to intelligence sources, Ri gave birth to a son in 2010 and two daughters around 2012 and 2020. The girl in the photo this time appears to be the older daughter. Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, who was invited to North Korea in 2013, has reported that he held a daughter of Kim's named "Ju-ae."
KCNA did not reveal the child's name or age. One North Korean defector who used to be a high-ranking military officer said the children's names were Ju-eun and Ju-ae. Ju-eun is believed to be the son.
Ju-eun has never been seen in public and may be at school overseas like his father, who went to school in Switzerland.
The secretive regime often keeps the leader's children out of the public eye. Few had heard of Kim Jong-un when he was appointed his father's successor, and his brother Kim Jong-chul is never seen.
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