North Korea: Kim Jong Un took his daughter to a missile launch and no one really knows why

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North Korea: Kim Jong Un took his daughter to a missile launch and no one really knows why
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Seoul, South Korea
CNN

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

It was the scene North Korea showed the world on Saturday as state media released the first photos of Kim Jong Un with a child believed to be his daughter, Ju Ae, inspecting this experts say is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

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

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

What did his presence at launch mean? Could she be a possible successor to Kim? What does a 9-year-old girl have to do with nuclear weapons?

Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said the girl’s presence should be viewed through a domestic lens.

“Outside of North Korea, it might seem deranged to pose for the cameras hand-in-hand with a child in front of a long-range missile designed to deliver a nuclear weapon to a distant city,” Easley said.

“But in North Korea, the supposedly successful launch of the world’s largest mobile ICBM is cause for national celebration.”

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

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

The footage also featured the girl as a key member of the Kim lineage, Yang said.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un And His Daughter Attend The Launch Of An Icbm In This Undated Photo Released November 19, 2022 By North Korean State Media.

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

But any short-term change in North Korean leadership is highly unlikely.

Kim Jong Un is only 38 years old. And even if an unexpected problem were to cost him his life, Ju Ae is likely at least a decade or more away from being able to replace his father at the top of the North Korean state.

“I’m really not sure of the succession implications of bringing in her daughter,” said Ankit Panda, senior researcher in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“On the one hand, publicly revealing (a) child cannot be taken lightly by any North Korean leader, but she is a minor and her role in the test has not been particularly highlighted by the US media. state,” he said.

Panda noted that North Korea’s released video of Friday’s ICBM launch could prove far more valuable to Western intelligence than anything gleaned from Kim’s daughter’s presence.

“The United States has sophisticated sources and methods that will give it considerable insight into North Korean missiles, but the video may be useful in building a more complete model of the missile’s performance,” he said.

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

North Korea's Last Icbm Missile Launch On Friday, November 18, 2022.

It was only the third time Pyongyang had released video of a missile launch since 2017, according to Panda.

“The North Koreans were considerably more transparent before 2017, when their main concern was the credibility 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 place a warhead atop a long-range ballistic missiles – projectiles that are fired into space – that are able to survive fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere before plunging towards their target.

But analysts say that with their repeated testing, the North Koreans are refining their processes. A missile believed to be a Hwasong-17 ICBM tested earlier this month failed early in its flight.

“The fact that (Friday’s test) did not explode indicates that they have made progress in resolving the technical issues that plagued previous tests,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists.

What comes next from North Korea is anybody’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 images showing activity at the nuclear test site. Such a test would be Pyongyang’s first in five years.

But Yang, president of the University of North Korea Studies, told Global News that Friday’s test may have mitigated any urgency for a nuclear test, at least for now.

“The possibility of North Korea’s seventh nuclear test in November seems a bit low now,” he said.

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

Cnn

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