Recently, the world has noticed that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been parading one of his children in important events. What could this mean for a dictator who often keeps his family and private matters away from the public?
In two military events, Kim Jong Un had one of his children by his side, and it is believed that there's a hidden reason he is showing off his young child to the world.
The young girl is believed to be named Ju Ae and is around 9 years old; she was brought to inspect some of the military weapons with her father at a Pyongyang military barracks last Tuesday. A day after this event, Kim Jong Un's daughter was also present as the North Korean army paraded more than ten intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) through Kim Il Sung Square.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said that Kim Jong Un was showing off his children so that the world would know that he already has a successor waiting around the corner. "By ostentatiously including his wife and daughter, Kim wants observers at home and abroad to see his family dynasty and the North Korean military as irrevocably linked," Easley said.
Kim Jong Un’s Children
Kim Jong Un is a North Korean dictator whose family has ruled North Korea for over 50 years. The family of Kim Jong Un started ruling North Korea as early as 1948, with Kim Il Sung starting the Kim dynasty. Kim Il Sung died around 1994 before he was succeeded by Kim Jong Il, who also died in 2011. At this moment, Kim Jong Un took over as a North Korean dictator.
Like other past leaders, things are very private. Even Kim Jong Un's age is unknown by the public, leaving many western observers only to guess what his age might be.
Besides Kim Jong Un's age, western observers don't know the exact number of children he has. Kim Jong Un's children are believed to be three in number, with Ju Ae being the middle child. However, this information can't be verified by anyone outside North Korea.
American basketball star Dennis Rodman, a very good friend of the North Korean leader, once mentioned that Kim Jong Un's wife had a child when he visited them in 2013. He said, "I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with (Kim’s wife) as well." This has made observers guess that Ju Ae's age might be around 9 to 11 years.
Is Ju Ae Kim Jong Un Successor?
Many analysts and observers believe that among Kim Jong Un's children, Ju Ae was chosen to succeed the North Korean dictator.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said North Korean past leaders often identify their potential successors early enough.
"It is known that Kim Jong Il told his aides that Kim Jong Un would be his successor while performing a song called ‘Footsteps’ to praise Kim Jong Un on his 8th birthday," Seong-chang said. He also added that showcasing Ju Ae might mean that she might be the successor to Kim Jong Un.