North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought a child believed to be his daughter to a lavish banquet at a military barracks on Tuesday. It is the newest indication that the leader may be preparing the girl to take over his dictatorial family dictatorship.
The daughter, Ju Ae, is said to be around 9 years old, and believed to be Kim’s second kid. She and her father attended the banquet to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army. According to official media on Wednesday, Kim also went along with his wife, Ri Sol Ju.
A Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report described seeing Kim and “his respected” daughter as a dream come true for the military officials at the banquet.
Pictures published by the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed the girl walking next to Kim and her mother. As they entered the venue for the banquet, military officers applauded. Later, the girl was seated at the banquet in the middle of the lead table, between Kim and her mother.
According to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, the girl’s attendance at such a significant occasion sends obvious signals in a nation where the Kim family and the military are both extremely influential.
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“By ostentatiously including his wife and daughter, Kim wants observers at home and abroad to see his family dynasty; and the North Korean military as irrevocably linked,” he said.
Other observers also said it’s clear Kim has made a choice of his successor, confirming speculation that began with the girl’s appearance at the November test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with her father.
Tuesday’s banquet came a day before what many experts expect to be North Korea’s biggest military parade ever.
Pyongyang is coming off a record year of missile testing; analysts are expecting to see examples of those missiles and more during an event expected to begin late Wednesday night.