North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter is revealed to the world at her first public appearance


Seoul, South Korea
CNN

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday oversaw the launch of a “new breed” of ICBMs along with his baby daughter, whose existence had not been previously confirmed.

Striking photos released by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) appear to show Kim holding hands with the girl while the ICBM sits on its mobile launch platform nearby.

KCNA claimed that the “new” missile viewed by the two was a Hwasong-17 and said it launched from Pyongyang International Airport and traveled a distance of 999.2 kilometers (621 miles).

Japan warned after Friday’s launch that the new missile appears to have the potential range to reach the mainland United States.

Kim said the test was designed to “clearly demonstrate his country’s ability” to respond to what he described as “hysterical aggressive war drills by enemies intent on destroying peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” according to the KCNA report.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter walk away from an ICBM in this undated photo released by KCNA on November 19, 2022.

“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to threaten the DPRK and frequently use nuclear weapons, our Party and government will react resolutely to nuclear weapons and to all-out confrontation with all-out confrontation,” KCNA said.

Friday’s launch, which landed about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of the Japanese island of Oshima Oshima, Japanese officials said was not the first time North Korea has launched an ICBM that experts and officials have assessed could theoretically be the could reach the United States.

Friday’s missile was shorter in altitude and distance than the March 24 Pyongyang missile test, which had the highest altitude and longest duration of any North Korean missile ever tested, according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). That rocket reached an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and flew a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), KCNA reported.

And in 2017, then-US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said a missile launched by North Korea that year had demonstrated the ability to hit “anything in the world.”

Despite the missile’s theoretical range, Pyongyang’s ability to place a nuclear warhead on it and get it on target remains unproven.

Ballistic missiles are launched into space before crashing back down to earth. Experts are yet to see conclusive evidence that North Korea can trick a warhead into successfully re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Kim’s threats to the US and South Korea were also nothing new.

After a missile test in October, the North Korean leader warned opponents his nuclear forces were fully prepared for “actual war”.

“Our nuclear combat troops … have once again demonstrated their full readiness for actual war to bring the enemy under their control,” Kim said in a KCNA report.

Very little is known about the personal life of Kim Jong Un or his family.

Saturday’s news report did not name Kim’s daughter, who made her appearance on state media for the first time. But in 2013, former basketball star Dennis Rodman told British newspaper The Guardian that Kim had a “baby” named “Ju Ae.”

Rodman said he spent time with the family, described Kim as a “good father,” and spoke to Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju.

“I held her baby Ju Ae and spoke to Ms. Ri as well,” he told the newspaper.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter inspect an ICBM in this undated photo released November 19, 2022 by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA).

Speculations arose in 2012 that Ri might be pregnant after a photo circulated by state media showed her wearing a long coat that could have hidden a lump. But North Korean authorities have remained silent on the matter.

State media only announced Kim and Ri’s wedding in July 2012, some three years after South Korean intelligence believed the wedding had taken place.

But that all changed in 2018 when she was bestowed a new title of “respected first lady” by North Korean state media, a notch up from the previously used “comrade” and a sign, according to analysts, that she was gaining her own cult personality.

Kim and Ri have three children together, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Since its founding in 1948, North Korea has been ruled by Kim Il Sung as a hereditary dictatorship. His son, Kim Jong Il, took over after his father’s death in 1994. And Kim Jong Un took power 17 years later when Kim Jong Il died.

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