SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his daughter to visit troops to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the country’s army as he lauded the “irresistible might” of his nuclear-armed military, state media said Wednesday.
The visit came amid indications North Korea is preparing to stage a massive military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where it could showcase the latest hardware of a growing nuclear weapons program that stokes the concern of its neighbors and the United States.
In her fourth known public appearance, Kim’s daughter Kim Ju Ae, believed to be 9 or 10 years old, stood closely with her father as he shook the hands of senior officials and sat next to him at a table. Analysts say Kim’s decision to bring his daughter to public events tied to his military is to remind the world he has no intentions to voluntarily surrender his nuclear weapons, which he apparently sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival and the extension of his family’s dynastic rule.
State media’s lofty description of Kim Ju Ae, who has been called “respected” and “beloved,” has also inspired debate on whether she’s being primed as her father’s successor. She took part in an ICBM flight test in November and accompanied her father to meetings with military scientists and ballistic missile tests.
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Kim and his daughter visited a Korean People’s Army officer’s quarters. He later gave an encouraging speech to the military at a banquet, praising them for maintaining “the strongest military in the world” despite external difficulties.
The visit comes as Kim presides over a meeting with his senior military officials, amid growing tensions with him to escalate Washington with neighboring countries in an attempt to defuse an already provocative series of gun demonstrations. It came a day after calling for an increase in combat training aimed at enhancing war readiness. .
Photos in state media show military personnel applauding at a banquet, believed to be held at the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang. Kim and his daughter dressed alike in black suits and white dress shirts and held hands as they walked down a red carpet alongside Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju.
Kim during his speech said it was his “greatest honor” and delight to be the supreme commander of an army that is “fulfilling (the) call of the times and history as the strongest army in the world.”
State media reports on Kim’s visit to troops didn’t mention any comments made toward Washington or Seoul. But Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial Wednesday that the North’s military is prepared to unleash a “super strong strike of unimaginable might to wipe out the origins of provocations without a trace” when facing enemy threats.
The newspaper said North Korea’s ramped up weapons tests and combat exercises last year were successful demonstrations of “overwhelming military might” that supports the government’s escalatory nuclear doctrine and its principle of “power-to-power, all-out confrontation” against enemies.
North Korea hasn’t confirmed plans for a military parade, which could possibly take place later Wednesday. Residents in Pyongyang marked the anniversary by visiting the city’s Mansu Hill to lay flowers and pay respect to the statues of their late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, respectively the grandfather and father of their ruler, as soldiers lined up to salute. Commercial satellite imagery is usually used by large numbers of military and civilians for events designed to celebrate Kim Jong-un’s rule and his relentless drive to consolidate North Korea’s nuclear status. indicates weeks of obvious preparation involving humans