Seoul, South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday oversaw the launch of “a new type” of an intercontinental ballistic missile, accompanied by his young daughter, whose existence had not previously been confirmed.
Striking photographs released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) show Kim holding hands with the girl, as the ICBM sits on its mobile launch platform.
KCNA claimed the “new” missile being seen by the pair was a Hwasong-17, and said it was launched from Pyongyang International Airfield, flying a distance of 999.2 kilometers (621 miles).
Japan warned after Friday’s launch that the new missile appeared to have the potential to reach the US mainland.
Kim said the test was intended to “clearly demonstrate” his country’s ability to respond to a “hysterical aggression war drill by enemies seeking to destroy peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” according to the KCNA report.
“Kim Jong Un has firmly declared that if the enemy continues to pose threats to the DPRK, introducing frequent nuclear strikes, our party and government will resolutely respond to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and deal fully with all-out conflict,” KCNA said.
Friday’s launch, which landed about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of the Japanese island of Oshima, was not the first time North Korea had fired an ICBM that experts and officials assessed could theoretically reach the United States, according to Japanese officials.
Friday’s missile was shorter in height and distance than Pyongyang’s March 24 missile test, which recorded the highest altitude and longest duration of any missile North Korea has tested, according to a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report at the time. The missile reached an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and traveled a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), KCNA said.
And in 2017, then-US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that year a North Korean missile had demonstrated the ability to hit “everything in the world”.
Despite the missile’s theoretical range, its ability to place a nuclear warhead over Pyongyang and deliver it to a target remains unproven.
Ballistic missiles are launched into space before returning to Earth. Experts have yet to see conclusive evidence that North Korea can successfully get a warhead to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere after burning.
Kim’s threats to the US and South Korea were nothing new either.
After a missile test in October, North Korea’s leader warned adversaries that his nuclear forces were fully prepared for “real war”.
“Our nuclear war forces … have once again proven their full readiness for actual combat to bring the enemy under their control,” Kim said, KCNA reported.
Little is known about the personal life of Kim Jong Un or his family.
News reports on Saturday did not name Kim’s daughter, who appeared in state media for the first time. But in 2013, former basketball star Dennis Rodman told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that Kim had a “child” named “Ju Ae”.
Rodman said he spent time with the family, describing Kim as “a good father” and that he spoke with Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju.
He told the newspaper, “I held their baby Joo A and also spoke to Mrs Ri.
Speculation swirled in 2012 that Ri might be pregnant after a photo carried by state media showed her wearing a long coat that may have hidden a scratch. But the North Korean authorities are silent on the issue.
State media did not announce Kim and Ri’s wedding until July 2012, nearly three years after South Korean intelligence believed the marriage had taken place.
But that changed in 2018, when North Korean state media gave her the new title of “honorary first lady”, a step up from the previously used “comrade” and, according to analysts, a sign that she is gaining her own persona. religions
According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), Kim and Ri have three children together.
North Korea has been ruled as a hereditary dictatorship since its founding in 1948 by Kim Il Sung. His son Kim Jong Il took power after his father’s death in 1994. And Kim Jong Un took power after 17 years when Kim Jong Il died.