SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s disclosure of his daughter in recent public events was likely an attempt to show his people that one of his children would one day inherit his power in what would be the country’s third hereditary power transfer, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers. Kim took his daughter to three events in the past few months. State media called her Kim’s “most beloved child,” sparking outside debate over whether she’s being groomed as his heir apparent, though she’s believed to be around 9 or 10 years old.
In a parliamentary committee meeting, the National Intelligence Service said it assessed that by taking his daughter to public places, Kim aims to show North Koreans his resolve to hold another round of hereditary power transition, Yoo Sang-bum, one of the lawmakers said. Yoo cited the NIS as believing her public appearance — the first for any of Kim’s children — doesn’t necessarily mean she will succeed Kim.
In its earlier assessment after the daughter’s first disclosure in November, the NIS told lawmakers that she is Kim’s second child named Ju Ae and about 10 years old. Ju Ae apparently is Kim’s child who retired NBA star Dennis Rodman saw during his trip to Pyongyang in2013. During Thursday’s briefing, NIS also said former North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, who was involved in now-dormant nuclear diplomacy with US, has been purged, as per Youn Kun-young, another lawmaker. If confirmed, it would be the highest-profile such case by North Korea in recent years. Youn quoted NIS as saying it has not yet found whether Ri Yong-ho was executed. Yoo said the spy agency didn’t say why Ri was purged.