‘Her presence is meant for an elite audience’

Andrey Yashlavsky

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appe-ared with his da-ughter during a ballistic missile test. The footage shows how the head of the DPRK inspects the launch pad of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a girl, the existence of which has never been confirmed before.
Kim Jong-un is seen wi-th his daughter for the first time in photographs of the couple hand-in-hand inspe-cting the launch of North Korea’s largest ballistic mi-ssile, writes The Guardian.
North Korea test-fired a Hwaseong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, the state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
However, the biggest surprise was the presence of Kim’s daughter, whose existence had never been publicly confirmed before.
The KCNA did not rele-ase the name of the girl, w-ho is pictured in a white co-at holding hands with her father as they inspect the rocket.
“This is the first time on record that we have seen K-im Jong Un’s daughter at a public event,” said Michael Madden, an expert on No-rth Korean leadership at the Stimson Center in Washin-gton.
According to experts, Kim Jong-un is believed to have three children, two girls and a boy. Some observers believed that one of these children could be seen on footage of the celebration of the national holiday in September.
In 2013, American basketball star Dennis Rodman, who had been to Pyongyang, revealed that Kim Jong-un had a “little” daughter named Joo E. After a trip to North Korea that year, Rodman told The Guardian that he had spent time with Kim Jong Eun and his family and held the child in his arms.
Rodman revealed that he spent time with his family, calling Kim a “good dad” and that he talked to Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju. “I held their baby Joo Ae and talked to Ms. Ri,” he told the newspaper.
In 2012, rumors arose t-hat Ri Solju might be pregnant after state media published a photo of her wearing a long coat that could hide her pregnancy. But the North Korean authorities have remained silent on the matter. State media did not report on Kim and Ri’s wedding until July 2012, about three years after the time South Korean intelligence believes the wedding took place. That all chan-ged, CNN reports, in 2018, when North Korean state media gave her a new title of “respected first lady,” a step up from the previously used “comrade.” Michael Madden estimates that Joo Ae is about 12-13 years old, which means that in about four to five years she will be preparing to enter a university or military service.
“It will mean that she will be educated and prepared to be a leader – it could be preparation for her to take the position of central leader, or she could be-come an adviser and beh-ind-the-scenes player like her aunt (meaning sister of Kim Jong-un, deputy depa-rtment head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yo Chen – “MK”),” the expert said.
North Korea has never announced who will succeed Kim Jong-un, and sin-ce few details are known a-bout his young children, W-estern and South Korean a-nalysts suggest that his sister and loyalists may form a regency until a successor is old enough to embark on a full-fledged leadership.
The appearance of a North Korean leader’s daughter at a missile test may indicate a fourth-generation hereditary succession and that the mainstream North Korean elite needs to prepare for such a development, Madden added. “Her presence is meant for an elite audience,” he said.
According to KCNA, Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, also rarely appeared at Friday’s presentation. “Whenever Ri Sol Ju appears, it is about s-trategic messages. They are usually designed to reduce tensions, counter other agg-ressive messages (such as ballistic testing), or demonstrate the Kim family’s coh-esion during times of do-mestic trouble,” said Ken Gauss, an expert on North Korea’s leadership at the American non-profit resea-rch organization CNA.
Meanwhile, according to CNN, Kim Jong-un directed the launch of a “new type” Hwaseong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, launched from Pyongyang International Airfield and flying 999.2 km, according to the KCNA report. Japan warned after Friday’s launch that the new missile appears to have the potential range to reach the United States mainland.
Kim Jong Un said the test was intended to “clearly demonstrate” North Korea’s ability to respond to “hysterical aggressive military exercises by enemies seeking to destroy peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to threaten the DPRK by frequently using nuclear weapons, our party and government will resolutely respond to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with total confrontation,” the KCNA statement said.
Back in 2017, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis claimed that a missile launched by North Korea that same year had demonstrated the ability to hit “everything in the world.” Despite the missile’s theoretical range, Pyongyang’s ability to place a nuclear warhead on it and deliver it to a target remains unproven. Ballistic missiles are launched into space and then returned to Earth. Experts have yet to see convincing evidence that North Korea can create a warhead to successfully re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, CNN stresses, recalling that Kim Jong-un’s threats to the United States and South Korea are also nothing new. After missile tests in October, the North Korean leader warned adversaries that his nuclear forces were fully prepared for “real war.”
“Our nuclear combat fo-rces … have once again proved their full readiness for a real war in order to ta-ke enemies under their control,” said Kim Jong-un.