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Kim Jong Un’s daughter has a new lofty title

North Korea's Kim Jong Un before a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone on June 30, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
November 30, 2023

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

The daughter of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received a new official title – “Morning Star of Korea” – that seemingly casts her as heir apparent to succeed her father, residents in the country told Radio Free Asia.

After North Korea successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite on Nov. 21, the Organization and Guidance Department of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party organized lectures for government officials to explain the satellite’s strategic significance. 

But the bigger news was how they referred to Kim Jong Un and his daughter Ju Ae, who both attended the launch.

“At the lecture … they said that the future of the space power era will thrive under the female general, the Morning Star of Korea,” a resident of the capital Pyongyang told RFA Korean on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.  

“This is the first time that the child of the highest dignity was officially called the ‘Morning Star of Korea,’ [a title] which was used to promote the early revolutionary activities of [national founder] Kim Il Sung.”

The progenitor of the Kim Dynasty is said to have been called the “Morning Star of Korea” during the time he was a guerilla leader who fought against Japanese rule of Korea before and during World War II.

The term “morning star” may have been used to describe both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, at one time or another, but never officially.

That the party is calling Kim Ju Ae as the “Morning Star of Korea,” in the exact way that Kim Il Sung is heralded, seems to suggest a deliberate effort to cast her in a similar light. 

Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather are deeply respected in North Korea even long after their deaths.

Though they may not be best known as the “Morning Star” anymore, posthumously, the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have been designated as holidays and named after other celestial bodies, the Day of the Sun and the Day of the Shining Star. Officially the two leaders are titled as the  “Eternal President,” the “Eternal General Secretary.”

Kim Jong Un as the current leader is referred to by many titles, including “Marshall,” “Supreme Leader,” “Beloved Father,” “General,” or commonly, the “Highest Dignity.”

Evolving title

Kim Ju Ae, who is believed to be about 10 or 11, burst onto the public scene about a year ago when she attended the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. She would make more and more public appearances over the next few months, and state media began referring to her as the “Beloved Child.” 

This title was later upgraded to “Noble Child,” and her rapid rise to prominence caused experts to speculate that it was all an attempt to convey an image of her father as a family man, or that she was being groomed to be his heir.

That the party has conferred the Morning Star of Korea title onto Kim Ju Ae and has called her the “female general” appears to point to the latter.

At the satellite lectures in North Pyongan province, lecturers said that because of the success of the launch, the whole world would look up to the “Morning Star of Korea,” the female general, a resident there said.

“[The lecturer] emphasized that the ‘Highest Dignity’ and the ‘Morning Star of Korea’ are protecting the future of the Republic,” he said. “The expressions on the faces of some officials seemed displeased at the content of the lecture, which idolized a young child as a rising star of North Korea.”