North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter makes first public appearance – The Washington Post

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North Korea has unveiled the daughter of leader Kim Jong Un for the first time – ending years of speculation about her existence.

Photos published by state media Saturday showed Kim holding hands with his young daughter at a missile launch site and inspecting a missile. Another photo showed the pair, this time joined by Kim’s wife Ri Sol Ju, at an observation platform during a missile launch. The photos are from Friday’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch — the second launch of its kind this month — according to state media.

It is the first time North Korea has mentioned Kim’s daughter, although state media didn’t provide her name or age, identifying her only as Kim’s “beloved daughter.”

North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile

While the child was not named, observers believe her to be called Kim Ju Ae. Her name was first revealed in 2013 by retired NBA star Dennis Rodman, who said after visiting North Korea that he had met the leader’s “baby” daughter.

According to Shreyas Reddy, a correspondent for North Korea monitoring website NK News, this is the first mention of any of Kim’s children by state media. South Korean intelligence agencies believe the North Korean leader has fathered two other children, born in 2010 and 2017, although their names and gender are not known.

“Her first public appearance at such a young age is in itself significant and a break from tradition, but it stands out even more that she was introduced to the country as well as the wider world at an event as prominent as the launch of North Korea’s biggest missile,” Reddy told The Post. “While we can say it is definitely a significant moment, at this early stage we cannot be certain what the purpose is.”

“Some prominent North Korean defectors told us that this clearly marks her as a successor to Kim Jong Un, a massive change in Pyongyang’s largely male-dominated leadership and a break from the Kim family’s patrilineal rule,” he said. Other suggested the move was instead an attempt to offer a more human face to the North Korean leader, he added.

Kim Jong Un has been in power for 11 years and is the third generation of his family to rule the secretive nation since it was founded by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in 1948.

Few confirmed details about the current leader’s private life exist. Speculation about a potential successor began in 2020 when Kim was rumored to have been gravely ill, although South Korean officials cast doubt on the reports, citing a lack of evidence. The following year, he returned to the public eye looking slimmer than ever, prompting further questions about the reasons for his sudden weight loss.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, has also played a significant role in public life.

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