Father and daughter walking hand in hand near a towering weapon of mass destruction.
That was the scene North Korea showed the world on Saturday as state media released the first pictures of Kim Jong Un with a child believed to be his daughter, Ju Ae, inspecting what experts say is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea said the missile launched Friday from Pyongyang International Airfield was a Hwasong-17, a huge rocket that could theoretically deliver a nuclear warhead to the mainland United States.
But even after Kim warned that his nuclear forces are prepared to engage in “actual war” with Washington and its allies South Korea and Japan, it was the girl, not the missile, who grabbed the world’s attention.
What did her presence at the launch mean? Could she be a possible successor to Kim? What does an approximately 9-year-old girl have to do with nuclear arms?
“Outside North Korea, it may appear deranged to pose for the cameras hand in hand with a child in front of a long-range missile designed to deliver a nuclear weapon to a distant city,” Easley said.
“But inside North Korea, a purportedly successful launch of the world’s largest road-mobile ICBM is cause for national celebration.”
Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in the South, also noted the domestic tilt in the images of Kim’s daughter.
“By showing some quality time with his daughter, it looked like he (Kim) wanted to show his family as a good and stable one, and to show himself as a leader for normal people,” Yang told Canadian broadcaster Global News.
The images also presented the girl as a key member of the Kim bloodline, Yang said.