NORTH Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un appeared with his 12-year-old daughter – fuelling speculation she could one day replace him as the hermit kingdom’s tyrannical ruler.
State media did not name the girl – simply referring to her as Kim’s “beloved daughter” – but she is understood to be Ju Ae.
Photos showed the girl – believed to be Kim’s second child – dressed in a black coat with a fur collar, linking arms with her dad.
The duo posed in front of the gigantic missile surrounded by uniformed North Korean soldiers.
It is only the second time she has appeared in the public.
And it is fuelling speculation she could be now becoming Kim’s heir, with no successor yet declared should the tyrant die.
Kim may have shed the pounds in recent years – but he is believed to suffer a myriad of health problems including diabetes and heart disease.
If he died without appointing a successor – it could cause a power vacuum and shake the tyrannical dynasty started by his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the daughter’s presence was meant to portray Hwasong-17 as “the protector of the future generation”.
“It looks like he will continue to parade his daughter on various occasions and use her as a means for propaganda,” he added.
Kim also handed promotions to more than 100 officials and scientists for their work on the the missile, the Hwasong-17.
Dubbed the “monster missile”, analysts and believed to be capable of reaching the US mainland.
And it came just days after Pyongyang test-fired it in one of its most powerful launches yet as the rocket hit hypersonic speeds.
Hailing the new ICBM as “the world’s strongest strategic weapon”, Kim said North Korean scientists had made a “wonderful leap forward”.
Kim vowed that North Korea want to create the “world’s most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century”.
He added also that he wants North Korea to have the “world’s strongest army”.
The launching vehicle for the new Hwasong-17 ICBM was awarded the title of “DPRK Hero”.
It “clearly proved before the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power”, the report said, adding the North “fully demonstrated its might as the most powerful ICBM state”.
Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification said the North’s trumpeting of the Hwasong-17’s test-firing was aimed at elevating its status as a nuclear power.
“If the (launch of the) Hwasong-15 in 2017 was focused on becoming a nation that can threaten the US mainland with nukes, the latest missile is focusing on becoming the most powerful ICBM state,” he said.
The UN Security Council has passed nearly a dozen resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile activity since 2006.
Attending a photo session on Saturday with officials and scientists who had contributed to the successful test-firing of the missile, Kim called for “limitless bolstering of the defence capabilities”, KCNA said in another report.
Kim exhorted the scientists and workers to “expand and bolster up the nuclear war deterrent of the country at an exceptionally rapid speed”.