KIM Jong-un has revealed his daughter for the first time ever as he held her hand before the test launch of a nuclear missile.
The existence of the tyrant’s daughter has never been publicly confirmed until now.
Pictures released by state news agency KCNA show the pair walking hand in hand inspecting the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile before it was fired on Friday.
KCNA did not confirm the youngster’s name or age, but experts believe she is called Ju Ae and is aged between 12 and 13 years old.
Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the US-based Stimson Centre, said: “This is the first observed occasion where we have seen Kim Jong-un’s daughter at a public event.
“It is highly significant and represents a certain degree of comfort on Kim Jong-un’s part that he would bring her out in public in such fashion.”
Her unexpected appearance raises the prospect that leadership of the totalitarian state could pass to a fourth generation of Kims, and suggests that nuclear weapons will be part of that inheritance, analysts said.
Mr Madden added: “The nuclear weapons programme and Kim Jong-un’s accomplishments around them is a family legacy for whomever his successor is.
“So, what we are seeing, is Kim telecasting that fourth-generation hereditary succession is highly likely to happen.
“This is intended to communicate it to the wider North Korean elite as well as to foreign governments.”
Jenny Town of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea research organisation, said that Kim’s taking his daughter to an ICBM test and publishing pictures of the two of them watching the launch suggests he is not about to bow to pressure to slow his weapons programmes or return to negotiations.
She said: “That has the gravity of handing down a legacy. These optics give the sense that these are part of her legacy too now.”
It is thought Kim and his wife had their first child in 2010 and their third child in 2017.
In 2013 retired American basketball star Dennis Rodman said Kim had a “baby” daughter named Ju Ae.
Mr Madden believes Ju Ae is about 12-13 years old, which means that in four to five years she will be preparing to attend university or go into military service.
He said: “This would indicate that she will be educated and trained to go into leadership – it could be preparing for her to assume the central leader’s position, or she could become an adviser and behind-the-scenes player like her aunt.”
North Korea has never announced who would follow Kim if he is incapacitated, and with few details known about his children, analysts had speculated that his sister and loyalists could form a regency until a successor is old enough to take over.
Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, also made a rare appearance at Friday’s launch, according to KCNA.
The huge missile was fired after Kim inspected it, and landed 200km off the coast of Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese officials.