Kim Jong Un’s daughter seen for first time in public at ballistic missile launch

World

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has revealed his daughter to the world for the first time as they inspected an intercontinental ballistic missile ahead of its launch.

Mr Kim’s daughter, whose existence had never been publicly confirmed before, was seen holding hands with her father.

While state news agency KCNA did not name the girl, experts believe she is Ju Ae, who is estimated to be aged between 12 and 13.

The pair were pictured before the missile was fired on Friday and landed 200km (124 miles) off the coast of Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese officials.

From left: Kim Jong Un, his daughter and his wife Ri Sol Ju. Pic: KCNA/Reuters
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From left: Kim Jong Un, his daughter and his wife Ri Sol Ju. Pic: KCNA/Reuters

Mr Kim is believed to have as many as three children, two girls and a boy.

Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Center, said: “This is the first observed occasion where we have seen Kim Jong Un’s daughter at a public event.

“It is highly significant and represents a certain degree of comfort on Kim Jong Un’s part that he would bring her out in public in such fashion.”

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Regarding Ju Ae’s estimated age, Mr Madden added: “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.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, along with his daughter, walks away from an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in this undated photo released on November 19, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE.
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Pic: KCNA/Reuters

In 2013 retired American basketball star Dennis Rodman said Mr Kim had a “baby” daughter named Ju Ae.

According to KCNA, Mr Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, also made an appearance at Friday’s launch.

Kim Jong Un
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Pic: KCNA/Reuters

North Korea has never announced who would follow Mr Kim in the event he is incapacitated and few details are known about his young children.

Analysts had speculated that his sister and loyalists could form a regency until a successor is old enough to take over.

Read more:
Kim Jong Un vows to strengthen nuclear operations
North Korea missile lands close to South Korean waters for the first time

Friday’s missile launch adds to a record-breaking year for North Korea’s missile programme, after it resumed testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for the first time since 2017.

ICBMs are North Korea’s longest-range weapon and are designed to carry a nuclear warhead as far as any location in the continental United States.

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