Kim Jong Un is believed to have 3 children, including one confirmed daughter, Kim Ju Ae.
Ju Ae has recently made several appearances in North Korean media since November.
Every seat in the global spotlight has stirred speculation about North Korea’s next successor.
The daughter of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently been making splashes in the state media and in rare public appearances.
She was first unveiled to the public in November when the state released images of Kim Jong Un and his daughter touring an intercontinental ballistic missile testing site. A few months later, she was seen, front and center, at official gatherings, including an anniversary banquet for the North Korean army.
North Korea’s Stamp Corp. also announced on Tuesday that an image of the “respected daughter” will be prominently displayed on the country’s stamps, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. On Saturday, she was spotted again in photos with her father at a soccer game.
The daughter’s global debut is a notable break from the Kim family’s usual procedure for public appearances. A verified photo of Kim Jong Unin comparison, wasn’t revealed until he was around 26 years old in 2010, a year before the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
The unexpected showcasing of the daughter has raised questions about whether Kim Jong Un is sending signals regarding the next heir to the Kim dynasty, though experts have said that it’s too early to speculate — especially considering the seat is typically reserved for a son.
Yet little is known or has been confirmed about the daughter herself — by the state and the North Korean leader. Transparency in general has not been a strong suit for the hermit kingdom.
Here’s what we know so far about Kim Jong Un’s daughter.
What is Kim Jong Un’s daughter’s name?
Her real name was never revealed by state officials or outlets.
The first source to acknowledge the very existence of Kim Jong Un’s daughter was NBA player Dennis Rodman, who developed a relationship with the North Korean leader during his visit to Pyongyang in 2013.
In an interview with The Guardianhe revealed that Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju had a baby.
“I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms. Ri as well. He’s a good father and has a beautiful family. Kim told me, ‘I’ll see you in December,'” Rodman told the outlet.
According to a recent report from Radio Free Asialocal governments in the cities of Jeongju and Yongsong have ordered women named Ju Ae to change the names on their birth certificates — another indication that may confirm the daughter’s identity.
How old is she?
The South Korean National Intelligence Service believes Ju Ae was born around January 2013, according to The Chosunilboputting her at 11 years old.
And taking from Rodman’s 2013 visit around February, Ju Ae would be around 10 or 11.
Ju Ae is believed to be the second child according to the National Intelligence Service.
Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju may have had their first child in the summer of 2010 and a third child around the beginning of 2017. Both of their sexes remain unconfirmed.
South Korean lawmakers have said they’ve received tips that the first child may be a boy, CNN reported.
What have North Korean officials and state media said about the daughter?
When the North Korean state media outlet KCNA released pictures of Ju Ae at the missile testing site, the agency recounted that Kim Jong Un was at the inspection “with his beloved daughter and wife.”
Months later at a banquet celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army in February, Rodong Sinnum outlet described how Kim Jong Un arrived at the lodging quarters with his “respected daughter” — a descriptive title that’s also conferred to the North Korean leader in its report.
Little has been said by state news agencies about the daughter beyond passing mentions.
According to former CIA officer Andrew Kimwho was involved in diplomatic efforts between the US and North Korea, Kim Jong Un may have made a rare comment about his personal life to the then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back in April 2018.
“‘I’m a father and a husband. And I have children,'” the former CIA officer recalled Kim Jong Un telling Pompeo. “‘And I don’t want my children to carry the nuclear weapon on their back their whole life.’ That was his answer.
Could Kim Ju Ae succeed her father?
Experts began to speculate if Kim Jong Un was signaling his next successor with the repeated public showings of Ju Ae.
Cheong Seong Chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, told CNN that the daughter’s appearance at the testing site and the state outlet’s description of the “beloved” daughter could be the latest sign that Kim Jong Un has chosen his next heir.
“Considering these, there is no longer any doubt that Kim Ju Ae has been appointed as the successor to Kim Jong Un, and it is necessary to pay attention to how this will affect North Korea’s domestic and foreign policies in the mid- to long- term, and how North Koreans will accept the succession of the fourth generation,” Cheong said.
But Duyon Kim, a senior analyst at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC, warned that it is too early to draw conclusions.
“You can only speculate at this point,” Kim told The Associated Press,”(Kim Jong Un is) obviously showing her off intentionally and, at a minimum, he seems to be trying to reiterate the importance, status, and legitimacy of a direct Kim bloodline offspring. It’s too soon to assume that she will be his heir because the son has always succeeded the throne in North Korea.”
Who else could succeed Kim Jong Un?
There has been speculation about Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, being a potential contender.
Currently, Kim Yo Jong serves as the only woman on the State Affairs Commission, North Korea’s policy-making body.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service previously said in 2020 that the sister could be the country’s “de-facto second in command,” CNN reportedciting Kim Byung-kee, a South Korean parliament member who attended a briefing with the agency at the time.
David Straub, a former senior diplomat in the US embassy in Seoul told The Daily Beast that Kim Jong Un’s recent flaunting of his daughter may be troubling signs for the leader’s sister if he truly is considering putting Ju Ae at the top of the hierarchy.
“Kim had both his uncle and his half-brother murdered,” Straub told the outlet, referring to Kim Jong Nam, who was assassinated in Malaysia in 2017 with a chemical nerve agent. Kim Jong Nam was widely considered to be the next leader of North Korea after Kim Jong Il.
“I’ll bet everyone in the Kim clan remembered, perhaps especially Yo Jong,” Straub said.
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