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The New Daily
The New Daily
Ash Cant

Kim Jong-un puts his young daughter in the spotlight. Is she the heir apparent?

Kim Jong-un has appeared alongside his second child Ju-Ae quite a bit recently. Photo: Getty

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has been parading his daughter around, most recently when North Korea was showcasing its new missile – and that’s why everyone is talking about Kim Ju-Ae.

Like her father, little is known about her. Kim Ju-Ae is believed to be Kim’s second child and she is 10 years of age.

The world learned her name thanks to former US basketball player Dennis Rodman back in 2013.

However, it wasn’t until November, 2022, that Kim Ju-Ae made her public debut, and she has been seen frequently at events in 2023, most recently on Wednesday night.

To mark the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s military, a parade took place in North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang.

The hermit country showed off its military might with displays of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Kim Ju-Ae was seen smiling by her father’s side during the parade, and her appearance has once again led to speculation that she has been picked as North Korea’s next leader.

Kim Ju Ae attended a military parade with her father. Photo: Getty

Back in 2013, former NBA star Rodman met North Korea’s leader while visiting the country at the invitation of Kim Jong-un.

I held their baby Ju-Ae and spoke with Ms Ri [Sol-Ju, Kim’s wife] as well,” Rodman said in an interview with The Guardian.

“He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family.”

There is speculation Kim has three children, with Kim Ju-Ae thought to have been born in 2013 as the ruler’s second child.

It is believed his first child, a son, was born in 2010 and his third child, a daughter, arrived in 2017.

Kim Ju-Ae started appearing with her father in November. Together, the two have visited nuclear missile testing sites and attended banquets with military officials.

Some believe North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un may have picked his successor. Photo: Getty

Veteran reporter Jean Lee, now with the Wilson Centre thinktank in Washington DC, spoke with America’s National Public Radio following Kim Ju-Ae’s most recent appearance, acknowledging “very little” is known about her.

She said the Kim clan operates like a royal family and while it might not seem strange that a father would appear in public with his daughter, in the context of this family Kim Ju-Ae’s prominence is strange indeed.

Part of a succession plan?

Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, ruled North Korea for 17 years. During his reign, he kept his family “very hidden”.

“We didn’t even see or hear about Kim Jong-un until he was well into his 20s and already tapped as the heir apparent,” Lee told NPR.

“So this decision to make his daughter public and really include her in these very big events is something that we’re sitting up and taking note of because it does raise those questions.

“Why is he introducing her now? Is this part of a succession plan?”

Speaking to the Associated Press, an official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Kim Ju-Ae’s multiple appearances were an attempt to strengthen loyalty to the Kim family.

The official, who requested anonymity, admitted it is too early to say if she will be her father’s heir, but added “all possibilities are open”.

Duyeon Kim, a senior analyst at the Centre for a New American Security in Washington DC, told the Associated Press  we can “only speculate at this point”. However, Dr Kim said it was obvious Kim Jong-un was showing off his daughter for a reason.

Kim clan’s bloodline

“At a minimum, he seems to be trying to reiterate the importance, status, and legitimacy of a direct Kim bloodline offspring,” she told the Associated Press.

“It’s too soon to assume that she will be his heir because the son has always succeeded the throne in North Korea.”

North Korea has never had a female leader. James Fretwell, an analyst from NK News, told the BBC that while North Korea’s society is male-dominated, it is also a “Kim-dominated society”.

More than anything, her bloodline will make her potential leadership candidate,” he said.

“It would be more surprising if someone outside of the ruling Kim family - male or female – managed to take the top spot.”

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