Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

Dictator’s daughter in spotlight again

A picture taken by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a banquet held in Pyongyang on Tuesday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, with his wife Ri Sol-Ju (left) and his daughter. (Photo by KCNA via KNS/AFP)

SEOUL: Sharing drinks, watching missile parades and dining with senior army commanders, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter was centre stage with her father and mother at major military events this week.

Her presence has added to speculation that she could be in line for a leadership position — maybe even the top job itself — in the nuclear-armed country’s hereditary dictatorship.

She appeared on Wednesday alongside Kim at a massive military parade, where state media showed her marching with him and her mother, Ri Sol Ju, at the head of military commanders, sharing juice drinks and speaking in each other’s ears as they observed the events.

A day earlier, Ri and the daughter were once again with Kim as he wined, dined and flattered military commanders at a lavish banquet commemorating this week’s army foundation anniversary.

“For all we know this is just him doting on a favourite child, but the more that she shows up, the more it seems that she’s either being fully groomed for leadership or at least floated as a possibility,” said Mason Richey, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

What is more clear is a message that the country’s nuclear weapons are for posterity, and she’s a part of that, he added.

“So another way of signalling that denuclearisation is totally off the table,” Richey said.

The girl has not been named in state media since she was first shown attending a missile launch with Kim last year, but South Korean intelligence officials believe she is the daughter identified as Ju Ae by former American basketball player Dennis Rodman, who spent time with Kim’s family in 2013.

Rachel Minyoung Lee, a North Korea expert with the Vienna-based Open Nuclear Network, said it is premature to conclude that Ju Ae is being prepared for leadership, but agreed that her presence at exclusively military events suggests the main purpose is to underscore the importance of continued weapons development for the security of future generations.

“The North Korean leadership probably has to make the case for why the country has to keep investing in national defence in spite of the deteriorating economic conditions,” Lee said.

“And no propaganda can be more potent than the leader’s young daughter to convey that message.”

People at a railway station in Seoul watch a news broadcast showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter, presumed to be named Ju Ae, attending a military parade in Pyongyang. (Photo: AFP)
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.