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Kim’s daughter reveal hints at prolonged family rule

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s disclosure of his daughter in recent public events was likely an attempt to show his people that one of his children would one day inherit his power in what would be the country’s third hereditary power transfer, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers on Thursday.

Kim publicly took his daughter to three events in the past few months: a missile launch site, a photo session with weapons scientists and a tour of a missile facility. State news media called her Kim’s “most beloved child”, sparking outside debate over whether she’s being groomed as his heir apparent, though she’s believed to be around nine or 10 years old.

In a closed-door Parliamentary committee meeting, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said it believes that by taking his daughter to public places, Kim aims to show North Koreans his resolve to hold another round of hereditary power transition, Yoo Sang-bum, one of the lawmakers who attended the private NIS briefing, told reporters.

But the NIS said Ju-ae’s public appearance – the first for any of Kim’s children – doesn’t necessarily mean that she will succeed Kim, Yoo added.

South Korean news outlets have reported that Kim has three children – born in 2010, 2013 and 2017 – and that the first child is a son, while the third is a daughter. In its earlier assessment after the daughter’s first appearance in November, the NIS told lawmakers that she is Kim’s second child, named Ju-ae, and is about 10 years old. The agency told lawmakers at the time that her unveiling at the missile launch site appeared to reflect Kim’s intentions to protect the security of North Korea’s future generations in the face of a standoff with the United States (US).

Ju-ae is the child who retired NBA star Dennis Rodman saw during his trip to Pyongyang in 2013. After that visit, Rodman told the British newspaper the Guardian that he and Kim had a “relaxing time by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he held Kim’s baby daughter, Ju-ae.

Kim Jong-un, who turns 39 tomorrow is the third generation of his family that has successively ruled North Korea since its 1948 foundation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and his daughter walk to a photo session. PHOTO: AP
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