NewsAsiaNorth Korea makes the largest exhibition of nuclear-capable missiles and shows the possible heir to Kim Jong-un

North Korea makes the largest exhibition of nuclear-capable missiles and shows the possible heir to Kim Jong-un

After a 2022 of intense ballistic frenzy, North Korea has started 2023 in the same spirit. On Wednesday, during a military march in Pyongyang to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army, the communist regime displayed around a dozen intercontinental missiles — a never-before-seen deployment — short-range tactical nuclear projectiles. and what some analysts suspect could be the shuttle for an innovative solid fuel rocket, an arsenal that shows the country’s “tremendous nuclear attack capacity”, according to the official press in its laudatory chronicle.

But in the festivities, organized in the square of Kim Il-sung – the founder of the Democratic Republic of North Korea and grandfather of the current dictator, Kim Jong-un – there was something else: in several of the images broadcast by the state media is in the center, starring in the scene, the daughter of Kim. The girl, who would be 10 years old and could be called Kim Ju-ae, also appeared in photos of a banquet, sitting between her father and her mother, Ri Sol-ju, Kim’s wife. Her daughter dresses soberly and elegantly and her father appears happily next to her, smiling and with a cigarette between his fingers.

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Although little is known about the offspring of the man who rules North Korean designs with an iron fist, intelligence from neighboring South Korea states that he has had three children with his wife, who would currently be 13, 10 and 6 years old. It is believed that the girl in the images would be the median. His name has never been officially mentioned by the state media, but the eccentric former NBA player Dennis Rodman, who has visited North Korea on several occasions, claimed, after a trip in 2013, that he met a daughter named Ju-ae, who then it was a baby that he held in his arms.

In November, the little girl had her first public appearance, during the successful launch of the regime’s largest intercontinental missile. Some of the photos of that ballistic test had a strange symbolism: they both appeared, dictator and potential heiress, walking hand in hand as any father would with his daughter, but with a huge rocket as background decoration, the Hwasong-17, nicknamed The monster. Since then, he has reappeared on several occasions, opening the door to speculation about a possible succession.

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“From my point of view, Kim Jong-un wants to show that his daughter is the possible future heir, which means that the Kim dynasty would not end with him, and would continue in the future,” says Ramon Pacheco Pardo, professor holder of King’s College London and holder of the Belgian KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. “I think that showing his daughter can also show that there is an underlying struggle to see which Kim would replace Kim Jong-un if something happened to him; either his sister, Kim Yo-jong, or his daughter, Kim Ju-ae. Kim Jong-un’s wife would want to make sure that she is his daughter, ”he adds.

The regime’s state press gives no clues. But he does draw a bombastic chronicle of the military parade. “The columns of ICBMs appeared in the square, resounding with enthusiastic cheers from the people full of pride and self-confidence, demonstrating the remarkable development of the DPRK’s military capability and tremendous nuclear strike capability. [Republica Popular Democratica de Corea]”, sums up the official newspaper Pyongyang Times. “The square was filled with the high spirit of the fighters of the strategic missile units ready to fulfill their strategic mission at any moment, faithful only to the order of the Leader.

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North Korean ICBMs at the military parade in Pyongyang on Wednesday. STR (AFP)

“North Korea continues in its process of trying to normalize its weapons program in the eyes of the international community,” says analyst Pacheco Pardo about the display of ballistic capacity. “The message would be that it is going to continue to improve its weapons, it is not going to hide its latest developments and the United States has to get used to it.”

At the military parade, the regime displayed five launch erector transporters similar to those that carry the largest of North Korea’s ICBMs (the Hwasong-17), but which carried containers inside which would house the fossil fuel rockets, according to the analysis of experts cited by agencies. This type of fuel allows for much safer and faster loading and prevents projectiles from being exposed to pre-emptive strikes for long periods of time if satellites and other surveillance assets alert them to a potential launch.


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