Meet Kim Jong Un’s ‘precious’ child Ju Ae – and possibly his likely successor | World News


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter has appeared in public for the second time in a week.

In the latest appearance, Kim Ju Ae and her father posed for photos with soldiers and missile scientists, as she was described by state media as his “most beloved” or “precious” child.

The comments appear to be even more glowing than last week’s description of her being his “beloved” child.

It was also seen as being a more mature appearance than when she was seen in public for the first time last weekend, holding her father’s hand and pictured with her mother Ri Sol Ju.

So who is the youngster who some believe could be being primed to become her dad’s successor as leader of the regime one day?

Thought to be Kim Jong Un’s middle child

Ju Ae is thought to be aged about nine and is the second of Mr Kim‘s rumoured three children.

South Korean media has previously speculated the leader has three kids – born in 2010, 2013 and 2017 – and that the first child is a son while the third is a daughter.

North Korea has made no mention of Mr Kim’s reported two other children.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, along with his daughter, inspects 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.

Ju Ae is highly likely to be the child who retired US basketball star Dennis Rodman saw during his trip to the capital Pyongyang in 2013.

After that visit, Rodman told The Guardian that he and Mr Kim had a “relaxing time by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he held Mr Kim’s baby daughter, named Ju Ae.

Kim Jong Un and Kim Ju Ae

Could she really be Kim Jong Un’s successor?

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday that Ju Ae and her father had met experts involved in what it called a test launch of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile.

Author Ankit Panda, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace thinktank, said the image of Ju Ae standing alongside her father and experts involved in the launch “would support the idea that this is the start of her being positioned as a potential successor”.

He added: “Both of her initial public appearances have been in the context of strategic nuclear weapons – the crown jewels of North Korea’s national defence capabilities. That doesn’t strike me as coincidental.”

Based on previous leaders, any children will need education and “on the job” experience before they can be considered for supreme leadership, and in about 10 years Ju Ae is expected to have started an official career, according to Michael Madden, director of North Korea Leadership Watch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter attend a photo session with the scientists, engineers, military officials and others

Speculation that Mr Kim’s eldest child is a son has led some experts to question how a daughter can take over, given the deeply male-dominated, patriarchal nature of North Korean society.

Mr Kim, 38, is a third-generation member of the family which has ruled North Korea for more than seven decades.

His father and grandfather governed the country before he inherited power in late 2011.

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Security analyst Soo Kim said: “We’ve been told that Kim has three children, including possibly a son.

“If this is true, and if we assume that the male child – who has yet to be revealed – will be the heir, is Ju Ae truly Kim’s most ‘precious,’ from a succession standpoint?

“I think it is too early to draw any conclusions.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter attend a photo session with the scientists, engineers, military officials and others

‘Mr Kim is just staging a show’

Chun Su-jin, a South Korean author, cautioned that the chance of North Korean elites welcoming Mr Kim’s daughter as their ruler is almost zero.

“It is not ready to welcome a leader of the other gender,” she declared.

“(Kim) is just staging a show that he is a loving father, not just a brutal dictator who shoots missiles.”

Others, however, argue that despite the secretive state’s strongly patriarchal society, gender may not disqualify a daughter or other woman from taking the reins.

Mr Kim is not even 40 so, barring serious health problems, there is probably a fair amount of time before he needs to consider a successor, according to Mr Madden.

“That gives ample time for North Korea’s political culture to change and create the conditions for a female successor,” the expert said.

Women have previously held senior roles in the regime over the years.

But several older daughters and sons were passed over by Kim Jong Il before he anointed Kim Jong Un, despite speculation at the time that his second daughter could be his successor, Mr Madden stated.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. Pic: Reuters

What about Mr Kim’s sister?

Kim Yo Jong is the leader’s only close relative with a public role in politics.

Her official title is vice department director of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, but South Korea’s spy agency has said that she handles relations with both South Korea and the US.

It has also said she is the North’s second-most powerful person after her brother.

Around 2020 when there was speculation about Mr Kim’s health, his sister was viewed a possible placeholder to take over the family dynasty until one of Mr Kim’s children was old enough.


Source : https://news.sky.com/story/who-is-kim-jong-uns-most-beloved-child-ju-ae-and-is-she-being-primed-to-succeed-him-as-north-korean-leader-12756432

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