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 has presented his daughter to the world for the first time in striking photos showing the pair hand-in-hand inspecting an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.
North Korea’s official Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Saturday that Kim Jong-un had attended the test firing of the ICBM “along with his beloved daughter and wife.”
Photos released by KCNA were the first official confirmation of the existence of the North Korean leader’s daughter.
KCNA did not name the girl, who is seen in photos in a white puffy coat, holding hands with her father as they appear to be inspecting a massive Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea launched a so-called Hwasong-17 ICBM on Friday. The missile traveled 1,000 km (622 mi) on a high trajectory and landed about 200 km (124 mi) west of Oshima-Oshima Island in northern Hokkaido Prefecture, according to Japanese officials.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Saturday that before the release of photos on Saturday, there was only speculation that Kim and wife Ri Sol Ju had three children, born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.
The only previous confirmation that the couple had children came from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who made a Don Quixote 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 newspaper that he spent time with Kim and his family and held their baby. Rodman said Kim had a “baby” daughter named Ju Ae, who is now estimated to be about 12 or 13 years old.
The North Korean leader was “a good father,” Rodman said at the time.
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.
Introducing his daughter to the world at this time could send an international message that the North Korean regime will remain, Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst who now works at the RAND Corporation, told Agence France news agency -Press.
“In a way, it’s a symbolic photo of Kim passing on the scepter of rulership to the next generation,” Soo Kim said, adding that the photos also suggest “a certain closeness and comfort between Kim and his daughter,” which would suggest may indicate that she is being groomed for future leadership.
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 trying to brand itself as a ‘normal’ nation — as it conducts these ICBM launches that show off its military prowess — by showing images of Kim being 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.”