Photos released by North Korea’s media agency are the first evidence to confirm the existence of Kim Jong Un’s daughter.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has unveiled his daughter to the world for the first time in dramatic footage that shows the pair holding hands as they watch the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday that Kim Jong Un attended the ICBM test “along with his daughter and wife”.
The photos released by KCNA were the first confirmation of the existence of the North Korean leader’s daughter.
KCNA did not name the girl, who is seen in photos wearing a gray white shirt holding hands with her father as they appear to inspect the massive Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea launched what it said was a Hwasong-17 ICBM on Friday. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers (622 miles) at altitude, and landed about 200km (124 miles) west of Oshima-Oshima island in northern Hokkaido, according to Japanese officials.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Saturday that, before the photos were released on Saturday, it was only believed that Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju had three children, who were born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.
The only previous confirmation that the couple had children came from former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who visited Pyongyang in 2013 and said he met Kim’s daughter.
When he went to North Korea that year, Rodman told The Guardian newspaper that he stayed with Kim and his family, carrying their son. Rodman said Kim has an “infant” daughter named Ju Ae, who is now 12 or 13 years old.
The North Korean leader was a “good father”, Rodman said at the time.
Kim – the grandson of North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung and the third generation of the Kim family to lead the country – married Ri Sol Ju in 2009, according to Seoul’s spy agency.
Introducing his daughter to the world at this time could be designed to send a global message that the North Korean government is close to being, Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst now with the RAND Corporation, told the news agency Agence France-Presse.
“In a way, it’s a symbolic picture of Kim handing over the scepter to the next generation,” Soo Kim said, adding that the pictures also show “closeness and comfort between Kim and his daughter”, which could indicate that she is being groomed for future leadership.
The photos could also be part of a well-managed attempt by Pyongyang to portray Kim as a “normal” leader, North Korean academic Ahn Chan-il told AFP.
“Pyongyang appears to be trying to portray itself as a ‘good’ country – by conducting ICBM exercises that demonstrate its military prowess – by showing images of Kim as a seemingly loving father,” Ahn said.
“This is also a sign of establishing stability in the government by announcing to the outside world that it is now entering its fourth generation and is well prepared.”