As Kim Jong Un's Daughter Debuts, Multiple Signals Go Out To The World

North Korea has not said if he has any siblings. Her age remains a mystery. The world doesn't even know her name. The important thing is that she is the "most beloved" daughter of Kim Jong-un.

She most recently accompanied Kim to a photo shoot to celebrate the successful launch of the country's most powerful ballistic missile — prompting "tumultuous cheers of 'Hurrah!'" according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency published on Sunday.

For all the mystery, these events sent clear signals to both the North Korean public and the wider world: First, the Kim regime is here to stay. Second, the ruling family is not going to negotiate its nuclear arsenal anytime soon.

"The optics of Kim and his daughter watching the launch together seem to underline the recent news that the nuclear program is no longer conditional and now includes the next generation as part of that success," said Jenny Town, senior fellow at the Stimson Center. in Washington.

Kim told North Korean lawmakers in September that he would "never give up" his nuclear weapons while pushing for a law that would allow for "automatic" strikes if his leadership was threatened.

North Korea's ability to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies in Asia has grown under Kim Jong Un to the point where there are calls to declare Pyongyang a nuclear-weapon state and overhaul a decades-old U.S. policy of never allowing that to happen . , while seeking the complete, verifiable and irreversible end of its nuclear arsenal.

Ju Ae's debut is just the latest example of Kim's willingness to share the spotlight with prominent women. In addition to frequent appearances with his wife, he made his sister Kim Yo Jong the face of the regime's response to the US and South Korea. He also recently appointed Choe Son Hui as the country's first foreign minister.

Still, it's too early to say whether Kim Jong Un intends to make Ju Ae his formal heir. Such a move would likely face opposition from the country's male-dominated political elite, said Rachel Minyoung Lee, regional affairs manager at the Vienna-based Open Nuclear Network.