North Korea has rolled out eight new stamps commemorating the country’s most recent test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. Five of those stamps feature Kim Jong Un’s daughter, Ju Ae, who’s made a flurry of public appearances in over the last several weeks.
The Kim regime is obsessively secretive, so the sudden public appearance of the ruling dynasty’s daughter is clearly a message. But what it means and who it’s meant for is a mystery.
Almost nothing is known about Kim Ju Ae, including her birth date, but South Korea’s intelligence service estimates she’s 10 or 11 years old.
She first appeared in November, hand-in-hand with dad as he inspected the Hwasong-17 missile. She was also by his side for the launch.
In North Korean media, she’s referred to only as the “Precious Daughter” or “Beloved Daughter.” It was former basketball star Dennis Rodman who leaked her name after visiting the North Korean leader, a man he calls a friend.
Now, one South Korean news outlet, quoting anonymous officials north of the world’s most heavily militarized border, says North Korean parents with girls called Ju Ae have been ordered to change their daughters’ names.
In the pictures, Ju Ae and Kim Jong Un look happy together. In one, she’s stroking his face with what appears to be genuine affection. Whatever the truth about their relationship, analysts are puzzling over the release of the pictures.
Is Kim trying to re-brand himself as Loving Family Guy, or Modern Man? Even as a feminist?
Ju Ae is thought to have two siblings, at least one of them a boy, but they are nowhere to be seen.
Kim has often appeared in state propaganda video and photos astride a white horse. In the Kim dynasty’s own version of history, the white horse is a powerful symbol of the family’s sacred duty to lead North Korea’s charge toward the glorious future.
So, when the commentator at a military display in Pyongyang this month pointed out that Ju Ae’s favorite white horse followed her father’s in the cavalry parade, speculation ran wild that the recent pictures of the “Precious Daughter” could offer the first glimpses of North Korea’s future dictator.