Seoul, South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the launch of a “new type” of an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, along with his young daughter, whose presence has not been confirmed.
Dramatic photos released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) appear to show Kim holding a girl, while an ICBM sits on its mobile launch pad nearby.
KCNA said the new “missile” seen by the two was a Hwasong-17, and said it had launched from Pyongyang International Airfield, flying a distance of 999.2 kilometers (621 miles).
Japan warned after the launch on Friday that the new missile appeared to have a range that could reach the United States.
Kim said the test was intended to “clearly demonstrate” his country’s ability to respond to what he called “aggressive military attacks by enemies who want to destroy peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” according to KCNA report.
“Kim Jong Un has firmly announced that if the enemies continue to pose threats to the DPRK, often developing nuclear attack methods, our Party and government will react strongly to nukes with nuclear weapons and fully face endless conflicts,” KCNA said.
Friday’s launch, which landed 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of the Japanese island of Oshima, according to Japanese officials, was not the first time North Korea had fired an ICBM that experts and officials checked to reach the US.
Friday’s missile was shorter in height and distance compared to Pyongyang’s missile test on March 24, which recorded the highest altitude and longest duration of the missile though which North Korea has ever tested, according to a report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) at the time. The missile reached an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and flew a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), KCNA reported.
And in 2017, former US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the missile launched by North Korea that year had demonstrated the ability to hit “everything in the world.”
Despite the missile’s theoretical range, Pyongyang’s ability to mount a nuclear warhead on it and deliver it to its target remains unproven.
Ballistic missiles are fired into space before returning to Earth. Experts have not yet seen concrete evidence that North Korea can get a warhead to successfully return to Earth’s atmosphere.
Kim’s threats to the US and South Korea were also nothing new.
After a missile test in October, North Korea’s leader warned his opponents that his nuclear forces were fully prepared for “real war.”
“Our nuclear war forces … have proven once again that they are ready for a real war to bring the enemy under their control,” Kim said in a KCNA report.
Very little is known about the private life of Kim Jong Un or his family.
Saturday’s news report did not mention Kim’s daughter, who was appearing for the first time in state media. But in 2013, former basketball star Dennis Rodman told British newspaper The Guardian that Kim had a “baby” 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 Ju Ae and spoke to Mrs. Ri.
Speculation arose in 2012 that Ri might be pregnant after a photo taken by state media showed her wearing a long dress that would have hidden her bump. But North Korean officials remained silent on the matter.
State media did not publicize Kim and Ri’s marriage until July 2012, nearly three years after South Korean intelligence acknowledged the marriage had taken place.
But that changed in 2018, when she was given the new title of “Honored First Lady” by North Korea’s state media, a step up from the previously used “comrade” and a sign, according to critics, that he is still finding his identity. cult.
Kim and Ri have three children together, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS).
North Korea has been ruled as a dictatorship since its founding in 1948 by Kim Il Sung. His son, Kim Jong Il, took over after his father’s death in 1994. And Kim Jong Un took power 17 years later when Kim Jong Il died.