Report: SKorea Says Kim's Appearances With Daughter May Suggest Succession Planning

South Korea's spy service reportedly told legislators in a private briefing on Thursday that it believes that the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, has been taking his daughter to public venues to show his resolve for another hereditary succession within his family.

Report: SKorea Says Kim's Appearances With Daughter May Suggest Succession Planning
Image credit: AP [via The New York Times]

Facts

  • South Korea's spy service reportedly told legislators in a private briefing on Thursday that it believes that the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, has been taking his daughter to public venues to show his resolve for another hereditary succession within his family. Kim's daughter is reportedly around nine or ten years old.
  • The South's National Intelligence Service (NIS), however, suggested that the possibility of daughter Kim Ju-ae ultimately taking over North Korea is unlikely.
  • This comes as Pyongyang's state news media dubbed her a "most beloved child" after she made three public appearances over the past few months. This sparked a debate over whether Kim Jong-un's reportedly middle child is being trained as his heir apparent.
  • On New Year's Day, a new image of Kim and his daughter walking past at least 26 unassembled Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a factory reportedly near Pyongyang was released during the coverage of the year-end six-day party plenum.
  • Speculation about succession also emerged in November as North Korean media reported that Kim watched the launch of the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile with his daughter. They continued as she joined her father in a group photo with missile engineers.
  • Though the ruling Workers' Party supposedly elects North Korea's top leader, only the Kims have ruled the country since its founding in the wake of World War II. Kim Jong-un has been in power for 11 years, following the path of his grandfather and father, who ruled until they died.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Korea Joongang Daily, Washington Post, NK News, and New York Times.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Korea Times . As state-run media controls information in North Korea, Kim's daughter's appearances indicate that she is the next in line to rule the country. Yes, Ju-ae is nine or ten years old and is reportedly not her father's firstborn, but Kim himself was appointed as heir apparent on his eighth birthday despite not being the oldest brother, and women have increasingly played important roles in the regime.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Scmp. Though some people may assume that Kim Ju-ae's appearances hint at her being North Korea's next leader, these moves are more likely linked to Kim Jong-un's attempt to be seen as a caring, stable father figure to boost the stability of his leadership. It's just too early for him to unveil his real successor — particularly because there have been no efforts so far to create a personality cult around his daughter.

Predictions