Don’t cry for the dictator’s daughter.
Nine-year-old Ju Ae, who was pictured publicly last week for the first time when she showed up holding hands with her father, North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, to observe the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, may have a weird life — but it’s probably a very good life, North Korea analysts say.
She’s believed to have two siblings, including an older brother, and is based with her family in their massive seaside villa in Wonsan in the province of Kangwon. The estate, which has been compared to Mar-a-Lago, has swimming pools, tennis courts, soccer fields, waterslides and a sports stadium and is located on east North Korea’s beautiful Sea of Japan’s beaches.
When they tire of Wonsan, the family has about 15 other mansions and palaces scattered across the country that they travel to via an elaborate underground system of tunnels and railways designed to avoid the prying eyes of overhead foreign intelligence satellites, North Korea experts said.
State media did not release her name but the girl was identified in 2013 by retired NBA star Dennis Rodman, who reportedly said he had held Ju Ae during a “relaxing” visit with his strongman pal.
Ju Ae reportedly has plenty of attention and devotion from her parents, according to Michael Madden, a nonresident fellow at the Stinson Center and an expert on North Korea.
“She has a very nice life,” Madden told The Post of Ju Ae. “She and her siblings have a full complement of nannies and housekeepers but they also hang out with their parents a lot. Kim Jong Un’s dad was a hard guy but was very attentive to his kids too. When you’re a dictator you get to choose how you spend your time.”
Kim Jong Un, 40, has been the Supreme Leader of the hermit kingdom since 2011, following in the footsteps of his father. Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea. Unlike his predecessors, who were serial philanderers, Kim Jong Un is thought to be faithful to his wife, Ri Sol-Ju.
Ju Ae observed the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile with her parents and government officials gathered at Pyongyang International Airport.
Photos from the spectacle show Kim watching the launch from a distance alongside his daughter, who wore a white jacket and red shoes and had her hair pulled back.
“When you look at that picture of of him holding her hand you can see a degree of intimacy and you can see it’s something she’s used to,” Madden said. “This is not just a photo op.”
At the same time, it is a photo op, Madden explained.
“North Korea likes to kill five birds with one stone with their messaging,” he said. “I think the affection is real but they clearly are trying to humanize Kim Jong Un and trying to make him appear as normal as possible. His father cultivated an aura of mystery. He used to say, ‘When the enemy looks at us they should look into a fog.’ But now they seem to want less mystery and make Kim look like a normal family man. He represents a departure from his father.”
North Korea also wants to send a message to the world that the Kim family is firmly entrenched as the country’s rulers — like a monarchy.
The Kims have long claimed to have what they call the “Mount Paektu bloodline.” Mount Paektu lies in the north and is the highest, most sacred spot on the peninsula for all Koreans. It’s where the spiritual founder of Koreans, Dangun, son of a god and a bear, was said to have been born in 2333 BC.
“Kim Jong Un is saying in these photos of him with his daughter: My regime is not going anywhere so get used to it,” Sean King, an Asia specialist at Park Strategies, told The Post. “The Kim regime and North Korea is here to stay and here is the next generation. The nukes aren’t going anywhere either.”
King also said Ju Ae and her siblings live a good life from what outsiders can see.
“The family lives a very exclusive, barricaded life in these palaces,” King said. “It’s a cloistered life but a good one. But of course a lot of what the family does is not just a secret from us, it’s a secret to their own people as well.”
Unlike her father, however, it’s unlikely Ju Ae or her siblings will study abroad.
Kim was sent to a posh private school in Bern, Switzerland — where an older brother had already gone to study — at age 12 in 1996, amidst the devastating North Korean famine that killed up to 3 million people. He was left in the care of an aunt who posed as his mother and later defected to the US, where she ran a dry cleaners in Manhattan. (She now lives in upstate New York.)
One of his classmates at the Liebefeld-Steinhölzli school described Kim as a reserved kid who could be temperamental and was obsessed with basketball, especially Michael Jordan. He also loved Jean-Claude Van Damme movies.
Kim was so crazy about basketball that he sometimes slept with one next to his bed, his aunt once said. He wore NBA jerseys, had a massive collection of expensive Nike shoes and wore fancy tracksuits — but never jeans, as they were a sign of hated capitalism.
Ju Ae probably won’t study abroad because security concerns are too great, but she will have access to the outside world in a way regular North Korean children never will, Madden said.
“North Korean elites have unfettered access to the outside world,” Madden said. “KJU watches CNN all the time. He grew up watching ‘The Matrix’ and listening to Prince and Madonna. His kids’ minds might be a little warped but [Ju Ae] has access to the Internet, I assure you.”