The photos released by the North Korean news agency are the first official confirmation of the existence of Kim Jong Un’s daughter.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un introduced his daughter to the world for the first time in stunning photos that show the couple inspecting an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Saturday that Kim Jong Un attended an ICBM test launch “with his beloved daughter and wife.”
The photos released by the Korean Central News Agency were the first official confirmation of the existence of the North Korean leader’s daughter.
The Korean Central News Agency did not mention the name of the girl who was seen in the photos, wearing a puffy white coat, holding hands with her father as they were apparently inspecting a massive Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
On Friday, North Korea launched what it said was a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) on an elevated trajectory, and landed about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Oshima Island in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, according to Japanese officials.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Saturday that before the photos were released on Saturday, there was only speculation that Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, had three children, born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.
The only previous confirmation that the couple had children had come from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who made an imaginary visit to Pyongyang in 2013 and claimed to have met Kim’s daughter.
After his trip to North Korea that year, Rodman told the Guardian that he had spent time with Kim and his family, holding their child. Rodman said Kim gave birth to an “infant” daughter named Ju Ae, who is now estimated to be about 12 or 13 years old.
Rodman said at the time that the North Korean leader was a “good father.”
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 Ri Sol Ju in 2009, according to the Seoul spy agency.
Presenting his daughter to the world at this juncture could have been designed to send an international message that the North Korean regime is here to stay, Sue Kim, a former CIA analyst with the Rand Corporation, told AFP.
“In a way, it is a symbolic image of Kim passing the scepter of government to the next generation,” said Sue Kim, adding that the images also indicate “a degree of closeness and comfort between Kim and his daughter,” which may indicate that she is being groomed for future leadership.
North Korean researcher Ahn Chan Il told AFP that the photos may also be part of a carefully managed attempt by Pyongyang to show that Kim is a “normal” leader.
“It appears Pyongyang is trying to brand itself as a ‘normal’ nation — while conducting intercontinental ballistic missile launches that show off its military prowess — by showing pictures of Kim as a seemingly loving father,” Ahn said.
“It is also a gesture to stabilize the regime by announcing to the outside world that it is now heading towards a fourth-generation succession and that it is well prepared for it.”
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