Kim Jong Un’s daughter could be part of ‘diversion plan’

The official launch of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s daughter into the public spotlight could be deliberately timed while the country continues ballistic missile testing, one theory says.

The theory was put forth on Monday by Soo Kim, a fellow at the Lowy Institute, an Australia-based think tank focused on Asia-Pacific politics. The state-run Korean Central News Agency last month released pictures of the North Korean leader holding hands with a younger woman, later identified as his daughter Ju-ae.

In the past two months, North Korea has fired several short-range ballistic missiles and an ICBM, which are described as simulated attacks on US and South Korean air bases, aircraft and major cities. The Pentagon later said the simulation was North Korea’s response to Vigilant Storm, joint exercises conducted between the United States and South Korea to strengthen their own alliance.

“With the nuclear issue long in the spotlight, Ju-ae’s public debut seems like it could be a perfectly timed distraction to divert the international community from focusing on finding a permanent solution to Pyongyang’s rapidly advancing weapons systems.” — for Pyongyang’s ICBMs The test was overshadowed by the 10-year-old’s public debut,” wrote Soo Kim.

Kim Jong Un and his daughter
A TV screen at Yongsan Train Station shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his second child Kim Ju-ae during a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) news bulletin. There are questions as to whether Ju-ae’s first public appearance is a distraction amid ongoing missile testing.
Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

She added, “If anything, these public appearances create greater opaqueness regarding the Kim regime’s successor plans, while largely ignoring the ongoing North Korean nuclear weapons challenge.”

Ju-ae is believed to have been first mentioned publicly by NBA Hall of Famer (HOF) inductee Dennis Rodman, who befriended the dictator during a basketball exhibition tour in February 2013. Rodman said after an additional trip in September this year, he met not only Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju, but also their baby daughter.

“I was holding her baby Ju-ae and also talking to Ri,” Rodman said The guard after the fact. “He’s a good father and has a beautiful family.”

Ju-ae made her first known public appearance on November 18 amid another ICBM launch. Her age is unknown, but some estimate her to be between the ages of 9 and early teens. The couple is said to have two more children, including a son born in 2010.

Soo Kim called the reveal “intended” due to the supreme leader’s affinity for grandiose presentations. She also said it was a sign to citizens that Ju-ae had a role to play in the dictator’s succession plans, especially given the leader’s now public health fears.

Aside from being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, he has previously suffered side effects from rapid weight loss. A head bandage he wore to a public appearance last year has led to different assumptions about his health.

North Korea’s continued testing and ignoring concerns on behalf of countries like the US has spurred South Korean citizens to want to build their own nuclear arsenal for self-defense. A June poll by the Asian Institute for Policy Studies found that about 70 percent of South Koreans support such a strategy.

Vann Van Diepen, a Korea expert who spent more than three decades in the US government before now working as a consultant for 38 North, recounted news week on Monday that Soo Kim’s claim strikes him as “silly and silly.”

“Those parts of the international community and the US government that are concerned about North Korean ICBMs don’t care too much about who might be from the KJU in the short term [Kim Jong Un’s] Successor in 20 years,” said Van Diepen. “The idea that showing off the child somehow distracts from the NK ICBM threat just doesn’t hold water.”

He added: “In fact, much of the comment from security professionals has been just the opposite. According to them, the presentation of the successor together with the ICBM should probably underline the ICBM program and underline that North Korea will not negotiate a path.”

In Soo Kim’s article, there is no argument about how the world community should respond to North Korea’s missile program, Van Diepen said, asking whether that involves a US attack on North Korea or something else. Kim Jong Un’s daughter could be part of ‘diversion plan’

Rick Schindler

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