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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Successor Issues Raised by Kim’s Daughter .

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When the North Korean leader took his usual parade position in the center of the balcony, he was unusually joined by a girl dressed in black. She was his second eldest child named Kim Ju Ae and is believed to have been around the age of 10. This was her fifth public appearance, all she did in less than three months. In that short time, she has undergone a remarkable transformation and she is likely to be elected North Korea’s future leader. When she first appeared during an intercontinental ballistic missile launch last November, there was a lot of speculation.

Wearing a white puffer jacket, with red ballet pumps and a ponytail, clutching her father’s hand, she appeared so young. Perhaps Mr. Kim just wanted to portray himself as a good father or make crystal clear his family, with all its weapons, was here to stay. But with each appearance, the young Kim appears to have grown in stature. On Tuesday night, ahead of the parade, she attended a banquet for North Korea’s top military officials. This time she dressed in a demure white shirt and black buttoned-up skirt suit, with her hair clipped back. The photographs were jaw-dropping for many a North Korean watcher. In each picture she takes center stage, sitting between her mother and father, and surrounded by military officials.

She was first introduced in state media as Kim Jong-un’s “beloved” daughter. By Tuesday’s military banquet, she had been elevated to the status of “respected” daughter. It is an adjective reserved for only the most revered. Only after Kim Jong-un’s status as a future leader was cemented, was he referred to as a “respected comrade”. Since its foundation, North Korea has been ruled by three generations of the Kim family. Its citizens are told that the family hails from a sacred bloodline, meaning only they can lead the country. Kim Jong-Un will want to ensure he passes the mantle down to the fourth generation.

Another reason Kim Jong-un needs so much time is to break down deep-rooted patriarchal prejudices. North Korea has never been led by a woman, but women have held high positions. Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo-Jung is the most prominent example. James Fretwell, an analyst at North Korean surveillance platform NK News, doesn’t think this is insurmountable.


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