Soldiers of the People's Army shout the slogan "Let's defend the Baekdu bloodline with our lives" at a military parade, quoted from a Korean Central TV screen broadcast on February 9, 2023.

The appearance of a plump and loveable-looking girl late last year in North Korean state-run media surprised Korea watchers throughout the world.

The girl appeared in pictures taken at the test site for North Korea’s ballistic missiles in November 2022. North Korean state-run media only used the title “Respected Daughter” to describe the girl, who looked around 10 years old and was holding her father’s hand. The South Korean government believes that her name is “Ju-ae.” There are even North Korea experts who believe she may be her father’s successor; in short, they believe that the outline of the fourth generation succession (Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un and now Ju-ae) has already started to reveal itself.

◆ What do people think about “Ju-ae”?

How do North Koreans view “Ju-ae”? ASIAPRESS reporting partners in the northern region of the country recently provided information (in list form below) about how people view Kim Jong-un’s daughter (using Chinese cell phones smuggled into the country).

・She looks like her father and mother (Ri Sol-ju)
・How old is she? We don’t even know Kim Jong-un’s real age…
・Does she go to school? No, she couldn’t be sent to an ordinary school.
・I thought that Kim Jong-un is a parent, just like us.
・Nobody even knows if her name is Ju-ae.
・Forcing people with the name “Ju-ae” to change their names? I’ve never heard about anything like that.
・Everyone was interested in her after she first appeared, but that was just a temporary (phenomenon) because life is hard (so everyone is focusing on surviving).
・ I’ve heard rumors that she is a genius and that she advises her dad.
・Nobody ever says anything bad about her because that would mean getting taken away.
ASIAPRESS also asked its reporting partners about the possibility of Ju-ae becoming a successor to her father. One reporting partner in her 40s said the following:

“That girl? She’s still a young child and a woman. Would (those characteristics) allow her to become the ruler? I don’t think anyone believes that (she) would become (the fourth generation) leader (of the country).”

While the views published here are no more than that of a minority of North Koreans, they do indicate the circumstances inside North Korea and how willing people might be to accepting her as a leader.

Kim Jong-un accompanied by his daughter at the military parade. Taken from the February 9 edition of the Rodong Sinmun.

◆ The meaning of the slogan “Defend the Mount Paektu Bloodline to the death!” that appeared at the military parade

“Ju-ae” reappeared at the large-scale military parade held on February 8. She was featured in the KCTV broadcast of the parade, and the camera work and editing made it clear the regime was trying to highlight her presence at the event.

There was a new slogan that appeared at the military parade as well: “Defend the Mount Paektu Bloodline to the death!”

The “Mount Paektu Bloodline” refers to the Kim family, connecting members of the family – including Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un – with Kim Il-sung’s guerilla warfare against the Japanese on the slopes of Mount Paektu, which lies on the border between North Korea and China.

The slogan was shouted out by soldiers marching in the parade and was also placed on placards that flapped in the wind. The slogan can be interpreted as a demand by the regime for the Korean People’s Army, which is tasked with defending the Korean revolutionary and the motherland, with protecting the Kim family with their lives.

A copy of the “Ten Great Principles” obtained by ASIAPRESS. It is the size of an adult’s palm.

◆ The “Ten Great Principles”

Based on my own research, the first time the words “Paektu Bloodline” appeared was in June 2013 in a document called the “Ten Great Principles for the establishment of a monolithic leadership system of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP).” These principles are of the highest esteem in the Workers’ Party as they demand absolute loyalty from the entire people and all organizations to the country’s third leader, Kim Jong-un, after the death of his father.

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In the “Ten Great Principles, the regime’s intentions and ambitions to continue its power succession into perpetuity is made clear:

“We must ceaselessly deepen efforts to establish and continue the unitary leadership system of the party.”

“We must continue our party’s and the revolution’s survival through the Paektu Bloodline and ceaselessly succeed and develop the Juche revolutionary traditions while adhering completely to its purity.”

A defector from Pyongyang who was living in Osaka at the time was surprised and disappointed when he saw the document in 2013. “No matter how much of a dictatorship it is, it’s tantamount to the end of the world for them to use words like ‘bloodline’ and ‘purity,’ which have no place in socialism,” he said.

A secretly photographed political study session where the lecturer is going over Kim Jong-un’s “Ten Great Principles.” Taken by ASIAPRESS in August 2013.

◆ The regime starts the process of perpetuating one-family rule

At this current point in time, we have no evidence in which to judge whether “Ju-ae” will become her father’s successor. The fact that the regime has placed Kim Jong-un’s daughter on a pedestal may simply be an effort to show the world, and North Korea’s citizens, that the regime will continue into a new generation.

In short, the daughter’s appearance shows that Kim Jong-un is intending to continue his family’s rule over the country into perpetuity, and that the process to set up a structure for the succession has begun.

That, at least, is how I view what is happening.