North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has appeared in public for the first time with his daughter, sparking some speculation that the young girl could one day succeed him as leader.
Kim appeared with his daughter, who is believed to be named Kim Chu-ae, while inspecting an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch on Friday in a first for the long-ruling family. The ICBM had the range to hit the United States mainland, according to the Japanese defense ministry.
The North Korean regime is famously secretive and relatively few details are known about the Kims, with even the dictator’s daughter’s exact age currently unknown.
North Korea expert Michael Madden of the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. told BBC News on Friday that he believed Kim Chu-ae to be 12 or 13 years old, while International Business Times reported that the girl is 9 years old.
State news agency KCNA shared photos showing Kim holding his daughter’s hand during the inspection as wells as talking to each other and to officials.
She is also believed to be Kim’s daughter by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, whom the dictator reportedly married in 2009. Details about Ri are also sparse and her date of birth is not publicly available, while she was only publicly revealed as Kim’s wife in 2012.
The couple are believed to have three children, with Ri giving birth to a son in 2010. Chu-ae was reportedly born in 2013 and a third child is said to have been born in 2017.
The existence of Kim’s daughter was revealed in 2013 by NBA hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman during his controversial visit to North Korea. At the time, Rodman said he had “held their baby Chu-ae.”
Rodman told The Guardian at the time that he had also spoken to Ri and said of the North Korean ruler: “He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family.”
The Kims have ruled North Korea for decades and both Kim’s father Kim Jong-il and his grandfather Kim-Il Sung were the nation’s dictators. Kim Jong Un succeeded his father, but it is not believed that the 38-year-old has yet named his own heir.
Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, is also well-known and a prominent member of the North Korean regime. She is the youngest child of the late Kim Jong-il and the current dictator’s younger sister. Their mother was Ko Yong-hui, who died in 2004.
Kim Yo-jong holds a number of roles in the North Korean government, including serving as the only woman on the country’s State Affairs Commission. She is believed to be very close to the dictator and was educated with him in Switzerland. The 35-year-old is also considered a potential successor to her brother.
North Korea has taken a combative approach to other nations, in particular South Korea, Japan and the U.S. The country warned of potential “uncontrollable” tensions earlier this month over joint U.S. and South Korean military drills.
Newsweek reached out to experts on North Korea for comment.
The post Kim Jong Un’s Daughter One of Many Mysteries in Secretive Leader’s Family appeared first on Newsweek.