North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has appeared with his young daughter in public for the first time, confirming long-rumoured reports of her existence.
The girl, believed to be named Kim Chu-ae, joined him at an inspection of the country’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile launch on Friday.
The pair stood hand-in-hand during the test, which was condemned by the US.
Mr Kim leads one of the world’s most secretive states, and very little is known about his personal life.
Several photos were published by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA, showing the two holding hands while they chat, speak with officials, inspect missiles and watch the launch from a viewing deck.
Chu-ae’s public appearance is significant, said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert from the Stimson Center in Washington DC.
Mr Kim – the third generation in his family to lead North Korea – is showing elites in his country that he still has a firm grip on power, Mr Madden told the BBC.
He said it could be Mr Kim’s way of showing “that the fourth generation of power succession is going to come through my [blood]line”.
It came after reports that “there was some sort of conflict between [Mr Kim] and other elite cohorts in 2021”, Mr Madden explained.
“If you challenge me, you’re going to go down,” is the message from Mr Kim, he said.
Mr Madden said he believed Chu-ae was aged between 12 and 13, which meant that in about four to five years she will be preparing to go to university or into military service.
In September, several North Korea experts reported that Chu-ae was shown in a video at the country’s National Day celebrations.
But this was speculation, and the North Korean leadership did not confirm that it was indeed the leader’s daughter.
The first time Chu-ae’s existence was ever mentioned was in 2013, after retired American basketball star Dennis Rodman made a controversial trip to North Korea.
Mr Rodman said he had spent time with Mr Kim’s family, relaxing by the sea and had “held their baby Chu-ae”.
Experts believe Mr Kim may have as many as three children – two girls and a boy, with Chu-ae being the oldest.
But the leader is extremely secretive about his family – even his wife Ri Sol-ju was kept a secret until some time after the pair married.