From the country's founder, Kim II-sung, to Kim Jong iI and now Kim Jong-un, power in North Korea has been deliberately handed from father to son. Each man over three generations has been declared the supreme leader and-

And ruled by a uniquely North Korean formula centered on him, the suryong. The state ideology, called juche, mixed socialism and Confucianism, a hierarchical system that ranks men above women and limits women's activities.

In the North's socialist theory of the great family, society is an organism of ''the suryong [ the great leader] as the nucleus, surrounded by his party and the people, each having an inseparable relations within a community bound by common destiny,'' Kim Won-hong wrote in a 2014 report :

'' Women of North Korea : A Closer look at Everyday Life.'' The nucleus of, of course, is the head of the family, the patriarch.

Daughters of the Sun : Recent pictures show her. -a ponytailed girl in red shoes - at a celebration for weapon scientists and tenderly patting his shoulder at a military parade.

On May 16, -the father and daughter pair- are shown wearing matching lab coats while inspecting a supposed spy satellite.

Mr. Kim Jong-un appears to be leveraging his daughter's global star power. 

'' Chairman Kim is always hungry for attention, but he has been losing the spotlight ,'' says Kim Young-soo, who leads the North Korea Institute, referring to the last time the leader commanded the world media, during the 2018 and 2019 meeting with President Donald Trump.

What do we know about this girl? 

According to South Korean intelligence, her name is Ju-ae, she is about 10 years old, she is probably the leader's middle child, and as a baby she was once held by the U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman. Mostly everything else is speculation.

A favorite debate among North Korea watchers : Is she heir apparent?

Some signs point to yes. The regime has long been obsessed with the portraits as part of the cult personality concocted around each leader. of North Korea. The intimate photos of Ju-ae with Mr. Kim could be considered an official endorsement. 

A successor should also be an embodiment of her or his predecessor, masterly in the regime's military-first ideology -which the photos certainly seem to illustrate. 

FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, Korean custom has designated the eldest son as the heir; King Jong-un, the youngest son, was appointed only after his father rejected his two brothers.

North Korea is experiencing '' a wind of change in gender,'' says Koo Hae-woo, a former high-ranking agent with the spy agency, but he still expects only '' a man at the top.''

Gender barriers are evident across North Korea, perhaps more so now than when the country was founded after World War II.

To build his empire, Kim II-sung promoted equal rights to galvanize women's contributions to the economy and society.

A law gave women the right to vote and run for office, and the Democratic Women's Union was started.

But in the 1990s, the state collapsed under an economic crisis and deadly famine. Families survived only because married women took upon themselves the dual roles of breadwinner and homemaker.

The World Students Society thanks author Chun Su-jin who has reported on North Korea for nearly two decades for JoongAng IIbo, one of South Korea's biggest newspapers.

She is the author of '' North Korean Women in Power : Daughters of the Sun.''


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