February 22, 2024

What the titles of Kim Jong Un’s daughter reveal about his succession plans

Descriptors like ‘beloved’ and ‘noble’ tie girl to Kim Jong Il, though this doesn’t guarantee she’s heir to the throne

Ever since the recent public emergence of Kim Jong Un’s daughter, speculation has been rampant about why state media waited years before revealing her. Is she the leader’s designated successor? Or did he simply trot her out to emphasize that his nuclear weapons protect future generations?

State media’s coverage of the girl has been scarce, so far only providing two of her titles: “beloved child” (사랑하는 자제분) and “noble child” (존귀하신 자제분). Yet the North Korean leadership cult is heavily formalized and has decades of precedent for comparison, making it possible to tease out the message that the regime is sending through these titles for DPRK cadres to decode.