SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought his daughter to visit troops to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the country’s army as he lauded the “irresistible might” of his nuclear-armed military, state media said yesterday.
The visit came amid indications North Korea is preparing to stage a massive military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where it could showcase the latest hardware of a growing nuclear weapons programme that stokes the concern of its neighbours and the United States.
In her fourth known public appearance, Kim’s daughter Kim Ju-ae, believed to be nine or 10 years old, stood closely with her father as he shook the hands of senior officials and sat next to him at a table.
State media’s lofty description of Kim Ju-ae, who has been called “respected” and “beloved”, has also inspired debate on whether she’s being primed as her father’s successor. She attended a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November and has accompanied her father to a meeting with military scientists and an inspection of ballistic missiles.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said yesterday that Kim visited the lodging quarters of the Korean People’s Army’s general officers with his daughter. He later gave an encouraging speech to troops at a banquet, praising them for maintaining the “strongest army in the world” despite external difficulties.
State media photos showed military officials applauding at the banquet, which appeared to be held at Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo Hotel. Kim and his daughter dressed alike in black suits and white dress shirts and held hands as they walked down a red carpet alongside Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
Residents in Pyongyang marked the anniversary by visiting the city’s Mansu Hill to lay flowers and pay respect to the statues of their late leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively the grandfather and father of their ruler, as soldiers lined up to salute.
Commercial satellite images have shown weeks of apparent preparations involving huge numbers of troops and civilians for an event typically intended to glorify Kim Jong-un’s rule and his push to cement the North’s status as a nuclear power.