Photo of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, daughter spurs speculation

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SEOUL – The first public appearance of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter in state media photos of the latest ballistic missile test has left North Korea watchers scrambling for more meaning.

Was this a clue to Kim’s succession plans, even though the girl is not yet in her teenage years? And considering the strange environment, who were the target audience of these images?

Accurate prediction of communication Released by North Korea, one of the world’s most closed countries, it’s a trained guessing game at best. Its ads can carry multiple messages at once and can act as a sort of Rorschach test for differing opinions. But many experts believe that the release of the photo was an intriguing move by Kim, showing how he might be seen as a leader and father, both domestically and by the international community.

“This is a very unusual case. You cannot see it with a lens. “I believe Kim considered the external and domestic consequences,” said Kwak Gil-seop, former director of the North Korea Regime Research Office at the government-affiliated Institute for National Security Strategy. “This was the result of very deliberate and sophisticated planning. I think this is the best of Kim Jong Un’s events.”

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Pictures of Kim and his daughter, released on Saturday, show them at what Pyongyang said was the successful launch of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile to date. The Hwasong-17 is designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads and is capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States.

State media said Kim brought his unnamed “lover’s” daughter, along with his wife, Ri Sol Jo, who appeared in photos of an earlier missile test. Observers say they believe the girl is Kim Jo-ae, whose name was first revealed in 2013 when retired NBA star Dennis Rodman held her as a baby during his trip to North Korea that year. became.

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South Korean intelligence officials say Kim also has two other children. older, a boy, He was born around 2010. Even less is known about the other child, who was born around 2017.

Tae Yong-ho, a South Korean lawmaker who was North Korea’s top diplomat before the split, said he thought Kim wanted to both emphasize his family roots and use them to underline the foundations of North Korea’s nuclear development — a signal for a weapons program. The axis of the regime’s survival strategy is here to stay.

Showing his daughter next to an ICBM, [Kim] Using North Korea’s official acronym, Tae said: “He is announcing to the world and his people that North Korea will never give up its nuclear program and that this program will continue throughout his generation.” And this message also states that the world cannot achieve the denuclearization of North Korea through influence in China.

A North Korean statement hinted at the meaning behind the photos a day after they were released. In a story published in Rodong Sinmun, a state media outlet, an unnamed North Korean woman described how she watched the event on television with her children. He is quoted as praising its success, saying that thanks to the country’s arms, his children would “never know war or live under a bright blue sky.”

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Regardless of the motivation, her daughter’s appearance broke the norm. Kim is the third generation of his family to lead North Korea, and the children of Kim leaders have historically not looked like this until they were named. Rachel Minyoung Lee, an expert on North Korean media propaganda, pointed to its successor.

This is not the first time that Kim has deviated from the conventions established by his father and grandfather. For example, he has spoken more about his country’s food crisis and other problems than his predecessors.

And unlike his father, who did not reveal his wife and only appeared in public with his sister later in life, Ri was featured in state media six months after Kim came to power, and his sister, who is a senior aide, is regularly seen in public. to be

“The unprecedented move to introduce the current leader’s son to the public should be understood in the broader context of North Korea’s evolving propaganda strategy under Kim Jong Un,” Lee said. “North Korea has made efforts over the past decade to make propaganda more persuasive and relevant, and that has sometimes included increased transparency,” highlighting Kim’s more human side.

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Lee said, “Joo Ae was most likely meant to represent future generations, and there is no stronger expression of your will than your child.

According to Kwak, an expert on the North Korea regime, there may be other motives as well. By shifting the conversation to his role as a family leader, he can attempt to remind political elites and domestic audiences of his “bakedo” bloodline. As one of the descendants of the founder of the country, Kim Il Sung.

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Beyond military issues and diplomatic complications [of an ICBM test], he drew the world’s attention as a father. He has glossed over provocative issues and nuclear weapons development while promoting his image, Kwak said.

The photos have raised questions about potential applications To name Kim’s successor, although he is only 38 years old. Experts say any assumptions based on her daughter’s one-time appearance are premature. The past two consecutive campaigns took years to unfold through private meetings with political leaders.

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However, this could be the start of a multi-year process of building Jo-ae’s public persona and training her to become a permanent member of North Korea’s elite or even an influential regime official, said Michael Madden, the website’s director. North Korean leadership watch

Kim builds significantly on the work of his predecessors Madden said that in the development of the country’s nuclear weapons program. Bringing his daughter to the Hwasong-17 launch could be a way to strengthen the family heritage as well as his connection to it.

“That’s a way of saying, ‘I’m going to take the oldest girl out and guess who’s going to run North Korea?’ “We want to continue the rule of the Kim family here, so don’t make any plans.”

He added that potential political rivals should pay attention. Taking him out like this, even if he doesn’t rise to the top, is a way of saying, “It’s going to continue, and don’t even try to think about power challenges.” “

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