In what appeared to be a formal introduction to the world, North Korean leader Kim Jung un has allowed the world to see her daughter for the first time. The fierce Supreme Leader appeared on the centre stage with his daughter to inspect a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday.
The striking photos were released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), showing Kim holding his daughter’s hand and bowing to hear what his daughter had to say. At their front was one of the multiple Intercontinental ballistic missiles ready to be launched. The ICBM was said to be a Hwasong-17 launched from Pyongyang International Airfield.
“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats to the DPRK, frequently introducing nuclear strike means, our Party and government will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation,” Korean Central News Agency said after the inspection.
Apart from North Korea being the world’s most secretive country, very few people know about Kim’s family and personal life. Although there have been talks regarding the Supreme leader’s family and her daughter, probably named Kim Chu-ae, what happened on Friday looked like an official introduction of who might be the next in line to the North Korean throne.
A dictator outside, a cool dad at home
The world only knows Kim as a leader and dictator. His life as a father, husband, and sportsman remains unknown to most people, including citizens of his country. However, there is one man that entered the most hidden place in North Korea. His name is Dennis Rodman. He is an American basketball player.
In an interview with Guardian Newspaper in 2013, Rodman said he visited the North Korean leader and had a great time with him and his family.
“The Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family,” Rodman said after the visit. He was the first person to publicly disclose that Kim has a daughter and also publicly disclose her name.
“I held their baby Ju-ae and spoke with Ms Ri [Sol-Ju, Kim’s wife] as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family,” Rodman added.
The pictures shared on Friday do not portray the North Korean leader as a strict and rigid father. He seems to be calmer than in previous times, and none would doubt whether he is a good father except for the intercontinental ballistic missile in the picture. Some have argued that Friday’s publicity of his daughter was a message to the people of North Korea and the world that he is grooming his daughter to take over from him.
The grooming of another supreme leader
Although Kim is said to have three kids, Chu-ae, at the moment, is the only one old enough to understand his father’s activities, at least to a reasonable degree. Friday’s public appearance, although without a word, could be a very clear message to anyone eyeing the leadership seat of North Korea to keep off.
Michael Madden, a North Korean expert at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, told the BBC that the public appearance of Kim’s daughter was his way of telling the people “that the fourth generation of power succession is going to come through my line.”
Mr Madden said Kim threatened to deal with whoever challenges him as leader of the country back in 2021. Chu-ae, now between 12 and 13 years, still has some years before he would be an adult. His father might just have begun training the next in line.
The leadership of North Korea has been transferred from father to son since its founding in 1948. The first leader was Kim II Sung. In 1994, his son Kim Jong II took his place, but unlike his father, that had a long reign, he died after 17 years in office. The current leader, Kim Jong Un, took his father’s place in 2011, and as the unwritten law demands, he would hand over power to one of his children.