Why could the daughter of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un succeed him?

NIS emphasizes Kim Ju Ae’s growing prominence, evident in her public appearances since late 2022

Ms. Kim has maintained a high profile since her first public appearance in late 2022.-Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter Kim Ju Ae is considered the “most likely” successor, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has revealed.

This is the first official recognition of Kim Ju Ae’s potential role, although the NIS remains open to various succession possibilities given Kim Jong Un’s youth and good health.

The NIS emphasizes Kim Ju Ae’s growing prominence, evident in her public appearances since late 2022, and notes the change in her description from “loved” daughter to “respected” daughter.

Analysts suggest that Kim Jong Un’s early introduction of Kim Ju Ae may serve strategic purposes, ensuring his established presence before assuming power and challenging North Korea’s patriarchal norms.

Despite the secretive nature of the North Korean leadership, this move aligns with Kim Jong Un’s apparent effort to solidify a succession plan for the next generation.

Kim Ju Ae, believed to be around 10 years old and Kim Jong Un’s second-eldest daughter, has accompanied her father to major events, including missile tests and military parades.

The NIS assessment echoes a similar perspective expressed by South Korea’s unification minister Kim Yung-ho at a recent press conference. The continued focus on Kim Jong Un’s daughter is seen as indicative that North Korea is accelerating succession plans amid internal challenges.

The adjective “respected” is particularly noteworthy, as it is reserved for North Korea’s most revered figures. Kim Jong Un’s strategic move to introduce Kim Ju Ae early into the public sphere can serve multiple purposes, including establishing her credibility and overcoming gender bias in a country that has never been led by a woman.

This revelation comes as North Korea strives to maintain its narrative of a sacred lineage, emphasizing the Kims’ exclusive right to lead the country.

Kim Jong Un’s efforts to position Kim Ju Ae as a potential successor coincide with his active participation in key events, such as the recent launch of North Korea’s advanced Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The move may mark a shift away from the traditional secrecy surrounding the families of North Korean leaders, signaling a strategic shift in the regime’s approach to succession planning.

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