Mystery surrounds Kim Jong Un's daughter as she's named 'as his likely successor'

Kim Jong Un and his daughter attend New Year's Eve celebrations in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Kim Jong Un's daughter (pictured) is reported to be around 10 years old. Credit: AP

By James Gray, Multimedia Producer

Who will succeed Kim Jong Un as North Korea's supreme leader has long been a topic of discussion among observers of the fiercely secretive nation.

Officials from the country have yet to comment on who could assume leadership duties, while at nearly 40 years old and with no apparent major health issues, Kim is not expected to cede power any time soon.

But recent public appearances alongside his daughter have sparked debate as to whether she could be named as his successor, marking the first female to lead North Korea since it was formed 76 years ago.

So, who is Kim's daughter? And what exactly is known about her? ITV News explains.

What is known about Kim Jong Un's daughter?

Little is officially known about the North Korean leader's daughter, although she is reported to be around 10 years old and named Kim Ju Ae.

The name, Ju Ae, matches what former basketball star Dennis Rodman called Kim's daughter, whom he said he saw and held during a trip to North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, in 2013.

North Korean state media has branded the girl as Kim's "most beloved" and "respected" child.

South Korea's main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), told a private meeting of lawmakers last year that the girl has never been enrolled in formal education and is homeschooled in Pyongyang.

Who is the mother of Kim Jong Un's daughter?

The identity of the mother of Kim Jong Un's daughter has not been publicly revealed.

North Korean officials have never commented on Kim's possible children nor whether his wife, Ri Sol Ju, has ever been pregnant.

Some reports have claimed North Korea's first lady to be the mother, but these have not been verified.

Kim Jong Un's daughter has been branded by North Korean state media as his most 'beloved' child. Credit: AP

Does Kim Jong Un have any other children?

There is no official confirmation of how many children Kim has but he's only ever appeared publicly with Kim Ju Ae.

The NIS has previously said she has an older brother and a younger sibling, whose gender the agency has not been able to verify.

But some - including Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at South Korea's private Sejong Institute - have questioned the NIS, calling its intelligence on the alleged older brother inaccurate.

When has Kim Jong Un's daughter appeared in public?

Kim's daughter made her first public appearance in November 2022, when she watched a long-range missile test launch alongside her father.

Her appearance came as a shock to international observers because neither Kim Jong Un nor his father, Kim Jong Il, were mentioned in North Korean state media before they became adults.

The girl has since accompanied her father to a number of major public events, including a military parade at a VIP observation stand, last September.

Kim Ju Ae (second right) has made a number of public appearances alongside her father. Credit: AP

She was photographed standing in front of her father at one point during a visit to North Korea's air force headquarters last November, with the duo both wearing sunglasses and long leather jackets.

Kim Ju Ae's last public appearance came during the recent New Year's Eve celebrations at a packed Pyongyang stadium, where Kim kissed his daughter on the cheek and she repaid the favour.

Is Kim Jong Un's daughter likely to succeed him?

North Korea has yet to comment on the succession plan for Kim Jong Un.

The NIS has said it sees Kim Ju Ae as her father's likely successor, citing a comprehensive analysis of her public activities and the state protocols provided to her.

But the agency has an indifferent record when confirming developments in North Korea, and a spokesperson told the Associated Press that it still considers all possibilities regarding Kim's successor.

Were Kim Ju Ae to succeed her father it would mark a significant change in direction for a country that has been successively ruled by male members of the Kim family since North Korea was formed in 1948.

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