North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his wife and daughter Ju-ae, visited soldiers at their barracks ahead of a quinquennial army anniversary, the nation’s main broadsheet Rodong Sinmun said on Wednesday.
Wednesday is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People’s Army or the KPA. A large-scale military parade is anticipated, but not yet reported.
In a commemorative banquet on Tuesday, Kim Jong Un praised the state’s military tradition that — despite the odds — persisted through the decades to achieve a “great and absolute power,” in an apparent reference to North Korea’s nuclear weapon capability.
Kim also hailed the Korean People’s Army as the “strongest in the world,” according to Rodong Sinmun, that “radiates an extraordinary sense of responsibility and an unbreakable superhuman willpower.”
He lauded the soldiers as the height of the North Korean people’s dignity who defend their bright days ahead, as he called for “redoubled efforts” toward the development of the armed forces and the socialist cause.
There were no remarks directed at the United States, Japan, or South Korea at the anniversary banquet.
Kim’s Daughter Attends
Images carried by state media showed Kim’s daughter flanked by beaming military men in the company of her father. Ju Ae, believed to be the second of three children between Kim and wife Ri Sol Ju, was referred to by state media not by name but as “the respected offspring.”
Her appearance at the banquet marks at least the fourth occasion that the young daughter, presumed to turn ten years old this month, attended a high-profile military event with her father.
She was last seen on state television on New Year’s Day, inspecting missiles and other weaponry inside a warehouse. The girl first came to the public’s eye in November of last year, present at a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile test launch. State media then described her as Kim’s “most beloved child.”
Some analysts consider whether the 39-year-old autocrat is grooming Ju Ae to be his successor in North Korea’s hereditary dictatorship system. Others say the choreographed decision to include the daughter in Pyongyang’s messaging underlines that North Korea’s nuclear program is intended to be passed on to future generations.
Prelude to Possible Military Parade
A large-scale military parade is anticipated to be broadcast on North Korean state television, which analysts will be combing for hints of progress in the reclusive state’s ambitious military modernization program.
Satellite imagery since late last year through recent days suggest North Korea has been running practice drills for the 75th-anniversary parade, which in recent years have been staged at night for dramatic effect.
During an expanded meeting of the party’s Central Military Commission Monday, Kim Jong Un ordered “matchless military strength” for “ever-victorious feats” by the KPA, to “perfect” war preparedness in line with the “prevailing situation.”
At the start of the year, North Korea publicized its intention to mass produce tactical nuclear weapons. It also indicated its continued work toward realizing a new intercontinental ballistic missile with a “quick nuclear counterstrike” capability, in likely reference to a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, which in theory can be launched faster than their liquid-fueled counterparts.