Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

A HIDDEN clue in a photo of Kim Jong-un has exposed his plans for the future of North Korea, experts believe.

The photo doesn’t appear unusual at first, showing the tyrant and his daughter, Kim Ju-ae, visiting a regime air force base.

Credit: Pen NewsThis photo of Kim Jong-un with his daughter has led experts to believe he is grooming her to take over his regime[/caption]

Credit: Pen NewsIn another photo she can be seen obscuring him from view once again[/caption]

Credit: Pen NewsKim Ju Ae and Kim Jong-un made their first public outing together last year[/caption]

But one detail changes everything – she’s photographed standing in front of him, partially obscuring the camera’s view of his left side.

The Chosun Ilbo, a newspaper in neighbouring South Korea, said it was an “unprecedented” move that pointed to her being Kim’s heir apparent.

The article said: “Ju-ae has appeared in many photos in the state media and always appeared either next to or behind her father, but in this picture she is the main character.

“It is unprecedented in the status-obsessed North to publish a photo with Kim Jong-un in the background.”

To block the camera’s view of Kim Jong-un is a major taboo in North Korea.

In 2019, the dictator’s personal photographer was fired over the faux pas, according to another South Korean newspaper, Daily NK.

His camera flash had momentarily obscured the view of Kim Jong-un’s neck for TV audiences; an offence considered “damaging” to his “supreme dignity”.

Experts agree that depicting Kim Ju-ae this way is proof of her special status.

And it’s not a one-off either – another photo from the same set shows the duo from behind, with the daughter once more in the foreground as they watch an aerial display.

It’s one of several clues that’s led South Korea’s National Intelligence Service to believe she’s being groomed for power.

Another giveaway is the way she’s being referred to in regime propaganda.

According to reports, she’s been dubbed the “Morning Star General” and has gone from being a “beloved” child to a “respected” child.

Cho Tae-yong, director of South Korea’s National Security Office, is among those now convinced.

He told KBS: “Looking at what has been said so far, I think we should now consider Kim Ju-ae as the successor and verify it.”

Meanwhile, Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho noted the “escalating level of protocol” around the girl.

He said: “If we look at these things, we cannot rule out the possibility of her succession to power, given that they are putting her on the main stage so early.”

Also persuaded is Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who fled the London embassy in 2016 and now sits in the South Korean parliament.

In remarks published by the Chosun Ilbo, he cited the growing cult of personality around her as proof.

“It signifies the completion of internal procedures within the top echelons of the North Korean leadership to appoint her as the successor,” he said.

Michael Madden, founder of North Korea Leadership Watch, explained the significance of the newly-published picture.

He said: “Kim Ju-ae standing in the foreground of the photo ahead of Kim Jong-un is certainly notable and extraordinary.

“We are accustomed to seeing North Korean officials and close aides paying Kim Jong-un a high degree of deference by giving him space and staying a few paces removed.

“So we can say with some precision that the positioning in this photograph indicates that the daughter is a figure worthy of respect.”

Mr Madden – a fellow of the Stimson Center in Washington DC – said the photo wasn’t definitive proof, however, and that Kim Jong-un had stood back in pictures before.

He said: “In 2014, Kim Jong-un was photographed taking notes from a factory manager with other officials during a visit to a defence industry plant.”

Nonetheless, the analyst believes there’s a push within the country to show Kim Ju-ae as a special figure, citing sources in the country with access to ideological indoctrination materials.

He said: “Early internal publicity efforts in support of the ‘respected daughter’ as a special elite figure are under way.”

But he still thinks her role is more akin to that of a first lady.

He said: “This does not preclude her being Kim Jong-un’s successor, but would more accurately describe the role she is currently playing in North Korean politics.”

As well as her suspected privilege in the political realm, NK News reported that the eyewear Kim Ju Ae is wearing in the photos with her father are the discontinued Gucci GG3644/S D28 ED sunglasses.

These sunglasses are only available secondhand and can fetch anywhere between $78 to $288.

This comes amidst crackdowns on “bourgeois culture” and “anti-socialist” behaviour in North Korea.

It is not the first time that Pyongyang elites have flouted their own rules, and Kim Ju Ae has been pictured wearing designer goods on several occasions.

On her first public outing with her father last year, she wore a $1,900 Dior Kid’s jacket to a test launch of a nuclear missile.

The pair were pictured walking hand in hand whilst inspecting the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile just before it was fired.

Credit: Pen NewsKim Ju Ae and her father have been pictured attending several military events together[/caption]

Credit: Pen NewsKim Ju Ae depicted wearing a Dior Kid’s jacket amidst crackdowns over bourgeois behaviour[/caption]

Credit: Pen NewsKim Jong-un’s daughter frequently sports designer goods[/caption]

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