Don’t cry for the dictator’s daughter.
Nine-year-old Ju Ae who was pictured publicly last week for the first time when she appeared holding hands with her father, North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, to observe the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile may have a strange life — but it’s probably a very good life, analysts say from North Korea.
She is believed to have two siblings, including an older brother, and is based with her family in their huge seaside villa in Wonsan in the province of Kangwon. The estate that has been compared to Mar-a-Lago, has swimming pools, tennis courts, soccer fields, water slides and a sports stadium and is located on eastern North Korea’s beautiful Sea of Japan beaches.
Tired of Wonsan, the family has about 15 other mansions and palaces spread across the country, which they travel to via an extensive underground system of tunnels and railways designed to avoid the prying eyes of overhead foreign intelligence satellites, North Korea experts said.
State media did not release her name, but the girl was identified in 2013 by retired NBA star Dennis Rodman, who reportedly said he had held Ju Ae during a “relaxing” visit with his strongman.
Ju Ae reportedly has plenty of attention and affection from her parents, according to Michael Madden, a nonresident fellow at the Stinson Center and an expert on North Korea.
“She has a very nice life,” Madden told The Post of Ju Ae. “She and her siblings have a full complement of nannies and housekeepers, but they also hang out a lot with their parents. Kim Jong Un’s father was a tough guy, but also very attentive to his children. When you’re a dictator, you can choose how you spend your time.”
Kim Jong Un, 40, has been the hermit kingdom’s supreme leader since 2011, following in his father’s footsteps. Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea. Unlike his predecessors, who were serial philanderers, Kim Jong Un is believed to be faithful to his wife, Ri Sol-Ju.
Ju Ae observed the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile with her parents and government officials gathered at Pyongyang International Airport.
Photos from the performance show Kim watching the launch from a distance with her daughter, who wore a white jacket and red shoes and had her hair pulled back.
“When you look at the picture of him holding her hand, you can see a level of intimacy and you can see that it’s something she’s used to,” Madden said. “This is not just a photo post.”
At the same time, it is is a photo shoot, Madden explained.
“North Korea likes to hit five birds with one stone with their messaging,” he said. “I think the affection is genuine, but they are clearly trying to humanize Kim Jong Un and try to make him appear as normal as possible. His father cultivated an aura of mystery. He used to say, ‘When the enemy sees upon us, they shall see into a mist.’ But now they seem to want less mystery and make Kim look like a normal family man. He represents a departure from his father.”
North Korea also wants to send a message to the world that the Kim family is firmly entrenched as the country’s rulers – as a monarchy.
The Kims have long claimed to have what they call “Mount Paektu bloodline.” Mount Paektu is located in the north and is the highest, most sacred place on the peninsula for all Koreans. That’s where spiritual founder of Koreans, Dangun, son of a god and a bearsaid to have been born in 2333 BC.
“Kim Jong Un is saying in these photos of him with his daughter: My regime is going nowhere, so get used to it,” Sean King, an Asia specialist at Park Strategies, told The Post. “The Kim regime and North Korea are here to stay and here is the next generation. The nukes aren’t going anywhere either.”
King also said that Ju Ae and her siblings live a good life from what outsiders can see.
“The family lives a very exclusive, barricaded life in these palaces,” King said. “It’s a monastic life, but a good one. But of course much of what the family does is not only a secret to us, it’s also a secret to their own people.”
However, unlike her father, Ju Ae or her siblings are unlikely to study abroad.
Kim was sent to a fine private school in Bern, Switzerland – where an older brother had already gone to study – at the age of 12 in 1996, in the midst of the devastating North Korean famine that killed up to 3 million people. He was left with an aunt who pretended to be his mother and later defected to the United States, where she ran a dry cleaners in Manhattan. (She now lives in upstate New York.)
One of his classmates at Liebefeld-Steinhölzli School described Kim as a reserved child who could be temperamental and was obsessed with basketball, especially Michael Jordan. He also loved Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.
Kim was so into basketball that he sometimes slept with one next to his bed, his aunt once said. He wore NBA jerseys, had a massive collection of expensive Nike shoes and wore smart tracksuits – but never jeans, as they were a sign of hated capitalism.
Ju Ae probably won’t study abroad because the security concerns are too great, but she will have access to the outside world in a way that ordinary North Korean children never will, Madden said.
“North Korean elites have unfettered access to the outside world,” Madden said. “KJU watches CNN all the time. He grew up watching ‘The Matrix’ and listening to Prince and Madonna. His kids’ minds might be a little warped, but [Ju Ae] have access to the internet, I can assure you.”