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Inside North Korea’s Succession Plan: Kim Ju Ae’s Role Revealed

North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile into East Sea
Formalization of 4th Generation Succession with the Term Hyangdo
Russia’s Strategy for Supporting and Collaborating with North Korea’s Nuclear Program

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On the 18th, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that North Korea had launched an unidentified ballistic missile into the East Sea.

North Korea has provoked for the first time in about two months since January 14th. Professor Park Won Gon of the North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University said through the media, “The most important meaning of this missile launch is that North Korea has provoked during the joint training period.” He also judged, “It is similar to the provocation that has been continued since the second half of 2022, where multiple missiles were fired during the period of joint training between South Korea and the United States.”

Furthermore, a few days before firing the missile, North Korea released 29 photos of Kim Jong Un inspecting the training of the airborne troops on March 15th and threw a message related to war.

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According to the North Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Un was reported to have directed the training of the airborne troops. Kim Ju Ae’s company, a strong candidate for the fourth-generation succession, is attracting attention from foreign and North Korean experts in South Korea.

According to the report, Kim Jong Un emphasized on the 15th that the basic mission of the People’s Army is war readiness and that preparation for war should be prioritized first, second, and third. In addition, it was reported that Kim Jong Un ordered all soldiers of the entire army to show a firm opposing will in case of war.

North Korea’s move is a response to the South Korea-U.S. joint training Freedom of Shield (FS) held from March 4th to 14th. North Korea has been inspecting the South Korea-U.S. joint training daily; on March 6th, it conducted actual maneuver training with the scenario of occupying the front-line South Korean observation post (GP) and breaking through the general front (GOP). Then, on March 7th, it conducted self-propellent artillery and MRL firing training, and on March 13th, it conducted the training match of the tank unit using new tanks.

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Meanwhile, it was the first time that Kim Jong Un accompanied his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, to the military training inspection site. At the site, Kim Ju Ae showed the image of a successor of the Baekdu bloodline by observing the training with binoculars at the observation post and watching the shooting training next to her father, Kim Jong Un.

One piece of North Korean media conveyed a message acknowledging Kim Ju Ae’s rank and position using the term Hyangdo, which indicates the direction to have the same status as Kim Jong Un. Hyangdo is a term that indicates the direction to go. It is frequently used in North Korean media when referring to Kim Jong Un, such as the Hyangdo leader Kim Jong-un.

It showed that North Korea is laying the groundwork for the 4th generation’s succession by including Kim Ju Ae in the term Hyangdo, which is used for Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea.

Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency used the plural form The great persons of guidance along with the Hyangdo of the party central to express Kim Jong Un and Kim Ju Ae together. It is said that this is the 26th report on Kim Ju Ae in North Korean media. Kim Ju Ae, born in 2013, is still in elementary school. The fact that such young children are increasingly exposed in the media predicts that North Korea is stepping into the stage of external formalization of succession.

Korean Central News Agency

In response to this situation in North Korea, Jung Seong Jang, chief of the Korea Strategy Center at the Sejong Institute, said, “The fact that Kim Ju Ae has obtained the title of Hyangdo strongly suggests that she will become the next leader of North Korea.” He backed up the explanation by specifying, “According to North Korea’s Korean Dictionary, Hyangdo is a leader who illuminates the way for the people to go in the revolutionary struggle and leads them to victory.”

In addition, Chief Jung said, “The current stage of Kim Ju Ae’s succession system is predicted to be nomination and succession lessons, but it has a significance that it was publicly revealed, showing the phenomenon of internal and external formalization.” He also analyzed the North Korean succession process, saying, “The fact that Kim Ju Ae is frequently exposed in the media suggests that Kim Jong Un’s will to promote Kim Ju Ae as a successor is strong.”

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In this way, North Korea is currently provoking South Korea by showcasing the Baekdu bloodline succession and military power and firing missiles into the East Sea. Putin’s remarks supporting North Korea in this situation are controversial.

On March 13th (local time), Putin mentioned that North Korea has its nuclear umbrella. The nuclear umbrella means the power to protect one’s own country with nuclear weapons. Putin’s remarks are interpreted as meaning to ignore the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and let North Korea officially obtain the nuclear haves status.

Russia is confronting Western forces in the Ukraine war and is entering the stage of international isolation. In this situation, Putin is facing the Russian presidential election, and foreign media interprets that he is taking strategic actions to gain his approval rating and make North Korea his side by adding the stimulating subject of nuclear. There are also growing concerns that if North Korea obtains the status of the nuclear haves, North Korea and Russia will be able to continue actual nuclear cooperation.

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