North Korea: Kim Jong Un took his daughter to launch missiles and no one is sure why

Seoul, South Korea

Father and daughter walking hand in hand near a giant weapon of mass destruction.

he was North Korea showed the world the scene on Saturday as state media released the first photos of Kim Jong Un with a baby What is his daughter, Xu Ai, observing Experts say that it is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea said the missile was launched from Pyongyang International Airfield on Friday There was the Hwasong-17, a massive rocket that could theoretically deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States mainland.

But even after Kim warned that his nuclear forces were ready to engage in a “real war” with Washington and its allies South Korea and Japan, it was the girl, not the missile, that grabbed the world’s attention.

What was the point of his presence at the launch? Could she be a potential successor to Kim? What does a 9-year-old girl have to do with nuclear weapons?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter walk away from an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on November 19, 2022.

Leif-Erik Eisley, associate professor of international studies at Iwa Woman’s University in Seoul, said the girl’s appearance should be viewed through domestic prism.

“Outside North Korea, posing for the cameras hand-in-hand with a child in front of a long-range missile designed to deliver nuclear weapons to a distant city may seem insane,” Easley said.

“But inside North Korea, the reportedly successful launch of the world’s largest road-mobile ICBM is cause for national celebration.”

Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in the South, also noted a domestic tilt in the images of Kim’s daughter.

“By showing some quality time with his daughter, it seemed like he (Kim) wanted to show his family as a good and stable family and himself as a leader for ordinary people,” Yang told Canadian broadcaster Global News. want to appear as.

Yang said the pictures showed the girl as a prominent member of the Kim dynasty.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter watch an ICBM launch in this undated photo released by North Korean state media on November 19, 2022.

North Korea has been ruled as a hereditary dictatorship since its founding in 1948 by Kim Il Sung. His son Kim Jong Il assumed power after his father’s death in 1994. And Kim Jong Un took power after 17 years when Kim Jong Il died.

But there is little chance of change in the North Korean leadership in the near future.

Kim Jong Un is only 38 years old. And even if some unforeseen problem were to take his life, Ju Ae is likely to be at least a decade or more away from being able to replace her father in the North Korean state.

“I’m really unsure about the implications of his daughter’s succession,” said Ankit Panda, senior fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“On the one hand, publicly disclosing (a) child by any North Korean leader cannot be taken lightly, but she is underage and her role in the test was not particularly teased by state media, ” They said.

Panda said the video released by North Korea of ​​Friday’s ICBM launch could prove more valuable to Western intelligence than anything gleaned from the presence of Kim’s daughter.

“The US has sophisticated sources and methods that will provide tremendous insight into North Korea’s missiles, but the video may be helpful for building a more complete model of the missile’s performance,” he said.

“In the past, analysts have used video to obtain a missile’s acceleration at launch, which can help us identify its overall performance.”

North Korea's latest ICBM missile launch took place on Friday, November 18, 2022.

According to Panda, this was only the third time Pyongyang has released video of a missile launch since 2017.

“The North Koreans used to be much more transparent before 2017, when their primary concern was the reliability of their nuclear deterrent,” he said.

While Friday’s test showed Pyongyang can launch a large ICBM and keep it aloft for more than an hour, North Korea has yet to demonstrate the ability to keep a warhead aloft a long-range ballistic missile IS – projectiles that are fired into space – that are able to survive fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere before falling on their target.

But analysts say that with their repeated testing, the North Koreans are refining their procedures. The Hwasong-17 ICBM missile tested earlier this month is believed to have failed in the initial stages of its flight.

“The fact that (Friday’s test) didn’t happen shows that they have made progress in fixing the technical issues that have marked past tests,” said Hans Christensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

What comes next from North Korea is anyone’s guess.

For much of this year, Western analysts and intelligence sources have been predicting that North Korea will test a nuclear weapon, with satellite imagery showing activity at a nuclear test site. Such a test would be Pyongyang’s first in five years.

But Yang, president of the University of North Korean Studies, told Global News Friday’s test may have dampened any urge for a nuclear test, at least for the time being.

“The prospect of North Korea’s seventh nuclear test in November now looks a little less likely,” he said.

But another ICBM test could be Pyongyang’s response if the US continues to strengthen its military presence in the region and expand exercises with South Korea and Japan, he said.

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