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North Koreans souring on Kim Jong-un’s ‘beloved child’ Ju-ae: lawmaker

By Kim Arin

Published : April 25, 2023 - 15:27

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Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, the National Assembly intelligence committee’s executive secretary, speaks to The Korea Herald during an interview on April 18. (Im Se-jun/The Koera Herald) Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, the National Assembly intelligence committee’s executive secretary, speaks to The Korea Herald during an interview on April 18. (Im Se-jun/The Koera Herald)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s only publicly seen child, Ju-ae, is stirring up ire among local people there for her extravagant clothing and well-fed appearance, according to Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, the executive secretary of the National Assembly intelligence committee.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service believes that Kim’s daughter, officially referred to by the North Korean government as the “most beloved child,” is becoming increasingly resented by many in North Korea, as the country endures a worsening food crisis, Yoo told The Korea Herald.

As a result of the ban on the sale of grain at markets imposed at the end of last year, coupled with intermittent COVID-19 border closures and lockdowns, a year of even more food insecurity is likely ahead for North Korea, he said.

“Most North Koreans live under severe restrictions. The sight of the young Ju-ae wearing fancy clothes is frustrating people,” he said.

Following a plenary session of the intelligence committee last month, Yoo told reporters in a closed-door briefing that Ju-ae has expensive hobbies like skiing and horseback riding, and that she is being homeschooled.

“To date, our intelligence service believes that Ju-ae is the middle child. It is still unclear if Kim’s firstborn is a son, and there is a third child whose sex also remains unknown,” Yoo said. “There are speculations that Kim may not have any sons.”

Yoo said that the NIS does not necessarily believe Ju-ae has already been designated as the heir to succeed Kim, but added, “Kim parading his daughter at public events is understood to be a means to justify power passing down to the next generation in his family.”