Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader, has seen his daughter for the second consecutive week.
Kim Ju Ae and her dad posed with soldiers and missile scientists in the latest appearance. She was described as his “most loved” or “precious child” by state media.
These comments seem to be glowing even more than the last week’s description that she was his “beloved child”.
It was also viewed as a mature appearance, compared to when she was first seen in public last weekend holding her father’s hands and pictured with Ri Sol Ju.
Who is this youngster that some believe could be primed to succeed her father as leader of the regime?
Supposed to be Kim Jong Un’s middle child
Ju Ae is believed to be nine years old and is one of Mr Kim‘s three rumoured children.
South Korean media have speculated that the leader is father to three children – one each in 2010 and 2013, and 2017, and that the first is a boy and the third is a girl.
North Korea did not mention Mr Kim’s two other children.
Ju Ae is very likely to be the child that Dennis Rodman, a retired US basketball player, saw in Pyongyang’s capital Pyongyang last year.
Rodman later told The Guardian that Mr Kim and Rodman had enjoyed a “relaxing moment by the sea” and that Rodman held Mr Kim’s baby girl, Ju Ae.
Could she be Kim Jong Un’s successor?
According to the official North Korean Central News Agency, Ju Ae and her dad met experts in what it called a launch of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental missile.
Ankit Panda, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace thinktank author, stated that Ju Ae’s image, standing beside her father and the experts involved in the launch, “would support the notion that this is the beginning of her being positioned to be a potential successor”.
He said, “Both her first public appearances were in the context strategic nuclear weapons – which are the crown jewels North Korea’s national defense capabilities. This doesn’t seem to be a coincidence.
According to Michael Madden, Director of North Korea Leadership Watch, Ju Ae will have an official career in 10 years based on the experience of previous leaders.
Some experts speculate that Mr Kim’s oldest child is a boy. This has caused some to wonder how a daughter could take over given North Korean society’s patriarchal, deeply male-dominated nature.
Mr. Kim, 38, is the third generation of the family that has ruled North Korea over seven decades.
Before he was able to inherit power in 2011, his grandfather and father governed the country.
Kim pledges to increase North Korea’s nuclear operations
Soo Kim, security analyst, said that Kim may have three children including a son.
If this is true and we assume that the male child – who has yet been revealed – will be the heir, then Ju Ae really Kim’s most precious ‘precious’, from a succession standpoint.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions,”
“Mr Kim is just staging an event”
Chun Su-jin (a South Korean author) warned that there is little chance that North Korean elites will accept Mr Kim’s daughter to be their ruler.
She declared, “It isn’t ready to welcome the leader of another gender.”
“(Kim), is just staging a show he’s a loving father, and not just a brutal dictator who fires missiles.”
Others argue, however that gender does not preclude a daughter from taking over the reins, despite the state’s secretive patriarchal society.
Mr Kim is only 40, so unless he has serious health issues, there’s probably plenty of time before he needs a successor.
The expert stated that this gives North Korea ample time to transform its political culture and make the right conditions for a female successor.
Over the years, senior positions in the regime were held by women.
Kim Jong Il passed on several older sons and daughters before he anointed Kim Jong Un. This was despite speculations at the time that his second child could be his successor.
What do you think about Mr Kim’s sister,
Kim Yo Jong the leader’s closest relative with a role in politics.
Although her official title is vice-department director of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, South Korea’s spy agency claims that she manages relations with both South Korea & the USA.
It also stated that she is the North’s second-most powerful person, after her brother.
His sister was considered a placeholder for the family dynasty until one Mr Kim’s children was old enough.