The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has been in power for 11 years and third generation of the family who rules the country for more than 70 years, made his daughter publicly known for the first time. On Saturday, the North’s state media published photos from the test-fire of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Kim Jong-Un observed the launch alongside his wife Ri Sol Ju, their “beloved daughter” and other officials.
In the pictures, the father and daughter can be seen walking and chatting together while holding hands as they watch the nation’s biggest ballistic missile take off. This is remarkable as it is the first time Kim’s daughter was mentioned and photographed by the state media. KCNA did not provide other information, such as her name or age.
The 38 years old leader has a very private life, little being known about his family. It was reported by South Korean media that Kim married Ri Sol Ju, a former singer, in 2009. It is believed that the couple has three children, two girls and a boy. It is speculated that the girl attending the ballistic missile test is the oldest child and is named Ju Ae. The first time her existence was mentioned, was back in 2013, as retired NBA star Dennis Rodman, made a controversial trip to Pyongyang. Rodman told the British newspaper the Guardian, that he spent “relaxing time by the sea” with Kim and his family, including their “baby” daughter named Ju Ae that he even got to held.
Ju Ae is estimated to be about 12-13 years of age, and her presence on Friday lead many to speculate she could become Kim’s successor. Michael Madden, a North Korea expert from the Stimson Center in Washington, said cited by the Guardian that “this would indicate that she will be educated and trained to go into leadership – it could be preparing for her to assume the central leader’s position or she could become an adviser and behind-the-scenes player like her aunt.”
Cheong Seong-Chang, analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said “Under North Korea’s system, the children of Kim Jong Un would have the status of a prince or princess, like in a dynasty. As the Rodong Sinmnum newspaper publicised the photo of the daughter, who took after Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju so much … she has no choice but to live special lives.”