North Korea unveils Kim Jong Un’s daughter at missile launch site

North Korea has unveiled its leader Kim Jong Un’s little-known daughter at a missile launch site, drawing widespread attention to a fourth-generation member of the dynastic family that has ruled North Korea for more than seven decades.

North state media said Saturday that Kim watched the launch of his new breed of ICBM with his wife Ri Sol Ju, their “beloved daughter” and other officials the previous day. Kim said the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile — the North’s longest-range nuclear-capable missile — proved he had a reliable weapon to contain US-led military threats.

The main newspaper Rodong Sinmun also published a series of photos in which Kim watched a high-flying rocket with his daughter from afar. Other photos showed her with her hair tied back, wearing a white jacket and a pair of red shoes, as she walked hand-in-hand with her father by a giant rocket on a launch cart.

It is the first time North Korea’s state media has mentioned the daughter or published her photos. KCNA did not reveal any other details about her such as her name and age.

Much of Kim’s personal life is still unknown. But South Korean media reported that Kim married Ri, a former singer, in 2009 and that the couple have three children, born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.

Kim Jong Un, front, speaks, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, second from right, and his daughter as Kim inspects the test firing of an alleged Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, north Korea on November 18, 2022.
Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju, second from right, watched the launch of the Hwasong-17 rocket with their daughter.

It was not known which child brought Kim to the launch pad. But in 2013, after a trip to Pyongyang, retired NBA star Dennis Rodman told British newspaper The Guardian that he and Kim spent “relaxed time by the sea” with the leader’s family and that he named Kim’s baby daughter Ju held Ae in her arms.

The identity of Kim’s children is a source of strong outside interest as the 38-year-old ruler has not publicly anointed an apparent heir.

When he disappeared from public view for an extended period in 2020 amid unconfirmed health rumors, a global media frenzy erupted over who would be next to rule an impoverished but nuclear-armed country. Many observers said at the time that Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, would step in and rule the country if her brother was unable to work.

A test shot from a missile at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, on November 18, 2022.
Kim Jong Un said the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile proved he had a reliable weapon to contain “US-led” threats.

The Kim family has ruled North Korea with a strong personality built around key family members since Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded the country in 1948. The family’s so-called Paektu bloodline, named after the holiest mountain in the north, allows only direct family members to rule the country.

“It is far too early to infer anything about the succession within the Kim regime,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “However, the public involvement of his wife and daughter in what Kim describes as a historically successful missile test ties the family business of governing North Korea to the nation’s missile programs.”

“This may be an attempt to compensate for how little economic accomplishment Kim has to support his domestic legitimacy,” Easley said.

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said if Kim continued to take this daughter to important public events, it could signal that she would become Kim’s successor.

Kim Jong Un inspects an ICBM with his daughter in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 19, 2022.
Kim Jong Un reportedly has three children born in 2010, 2013 and 2017.
via Reuters

“Under the North Korean system, Kim Jong Un’s children would have the status of prince or princess, like in a dynasty. When Rodong Sinmnum newspaper published the photo of the daughter who has been so inspired by Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju…she has no choice but to live a special life,” Cheong said.

Other observers say that Kim, who took his family to a missile testing site, suggested he was confident in the weapon’s successful launch, or that he may have been trying to polish an image as a normal leader including his family in his affairs.

The revelation of the Kim family’s child has surprised many North Korean observers.

It was only in 2010 that the then 26-year-old Kim was first publicly mentioned in state media when he held a series of top posts before inheriting power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il the next year. Kim Jong Il was also 31 when he took up a key post in the ruling Labor Party in 1973 – an appointment seen as an important step on the way to succeeding his father Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Il’s position as successor was made public at the 1980 party congress.

But Cheong said Kim Jong Il privately told his staff that Kim Jong Un, his third and youngest son, would succeed him in 1992, when the younger Kim was 8 years old. Cheong said Kim’s aunt and husband, who defected to the United States, told him that a song was played praising Kim Jong Un and that Kim Jong Il said Kim Jong Un was his successor.

“Kim Jong Un may have his daughter, who is most like him in his mind, as his successor,” Cheong said. North Korea unveils Kim Jong Un’s daughter at missile launch site


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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