North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C), his wife Ri Sol Ju (C-R) and his daughter Kim Jue Ae (C-L) attended a banquet celebrating the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, state media reported Wedensday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
SEOUL, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter visited troops and attended a military banquet celebrating the 75th anniversary of the army's founding, state media reported Wednesday.
Kim visited the lodging quarters of the Korean People's Army general officers with his "respected daughter," Kim Ju Ae, and later made a speech at a banquet celebrating what he called "the strongest army in the world," Korean Central News Agency reported.
Ju Ae is believed to be around 10 years old and first appeared in public at the launch of the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile in November. She has been seen at official events a handful of times since, strengthening speculation among analysts that she is being positioned as Kim Jong Un's eventual successor.
The Kim family has been in power since North Korea's establishment in 1948 under Kim Il Sung. After his death in 1994, his son Kim Jong Il took power, followed by third-generation leader Kim Jong Un in late 2011.
Images released by KCNA show the girl joining her father in greeting military officials and sitting at a table between Kim and her mother, Ri Sol Ju. Other photos showed the first family entering the banquet hall to the applause of officers in their medal-adorned dress uniforms.
In a speech at the banquet, Kim called for the continued development of the military.
"Let us all redouble efforts and work harder to strengthen and develop our army and to achieve the prosperity and development of our socialist country," he said, according to KCNA.
"Even under the harsh circumstances as now, our army is demonstrating its inexhaustible strength," he added.
On Tuesday, state media reported that Kim led a meeting of top military brass calling for expanded preparations for war by the nuclear-armed state.
The continuing military buildup comes as the country is facing a food shortage that some experts believe is the worst since the devastating famine of the 1990s.
Observers have been monitoring preparations for a possible military parade showcasing missiles and other new weapons to mark the anniversary. Seoul officials said earlier this week that there are indications North Korea may hold the parade late Wednesday night.