Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, was joined by his young daughter at an enormous military parade, sparking rumors that she is being nurtured to become the isolated country’s next leader while her father showcased his newest and largest nuclear weapons.

The massive parade that was held on Wednesday in the capital, Pyongyang, featured the newest hardware in Kim’s growing nuclear arsenal. Various experts mention that there is possibly a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile that he could test in the coming months.

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This missile was one of about a dozen ICBMs that Kim’s army showcased at the ceremony, a record-breaking number that showed how he is continuing to build up his military might despite having few resources as tension rises with his neighbors and the United States.

Who is Kim Ju Ae?

Kim Ju Ae is Kim Jong Un’s daughter and her appearance, alongside her father in the latest parade that took place in Pyongyang makes it her fifth public known appearance. Kim Ju Ae is rumored to be 10 years old, but her age cannot be confirmed yet. Observers from the west and all around the world, believe that Kim Jong Un has three children, and that Ju Ae is his middle child, though this can’t be verified by anyone outside North Korea.

Media outlets hailing from North Korea, reports of this week’s military events and described Ju Ae as Kim’s “respected” and “beloved” child.

In an interview with The Guardian, American basketball star Dennis Rodman revealed that Kim had a baby called Ju Ae when he visited Pyongyang in 2013. He also says, “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with (Kim’s wife) as well.”

When did the limelight fall on Kim Ju Ae? 

In November of last year, state media published images of Ju Ae and Kim inspecting a North Korean ballistic missile before a test launch, sparking speculation that she will succeed Kim. At this time Ju Ae’s identity was still not confirmed.

After that launch, South Korean politician and National Intelligence Service secretary Yoo Sang-bum stated that the girl was believed to be Ju Ae.

Later that month, according to Cheong Seong-chang who is a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, North Korean official media ran a piece with images of Kim with his daughter calling her his “most cherished” kid.

Additionally, photos published in North Korean media showed the girl and her father touring a missile plant before the end of 2022.

What this means for North Korea’s future leadership?

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, claimed that there is precedence in history for Kim to choose his successor at such a young age because his father, Kim Jong Il, did the same with him.

In order to honour Kim Jong Un on his eighth birthday, Kim Jong Il performed a song called “Footsteps,” in which he reportedly promised his advisors that Kim Jong Un will succeed him. He emphasised, however, that at the time, no one in the outside world was aware of this.

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Kim Jong Il’s first son, Kim Jong Nam, or second son, Kim Jong Chol, were rumored to be the next leader for a while, according to Cheong.

The girl’s attendance at recent events and the way she is described in state-run media, according to Cheong, indicate that she is being groomed to succeed her father.

He said that the girl is given preferential treatment by the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which uses the phrases “beloved” and “respected” to describe her in stories before Kim’s wife.

He continued by explaining that the girl would require the backing of the military if she was to replace her father.

She will be able to build credibility with the military over time by being prominently featured at military events from a young age, according to Cheong.