Kim Ju-aeBaekdu BloodlineTheater StateNorth Korea
Gachon UniversityEwha womans UniversityKeimyung University
In 2022, North Korea officially introduced Kim Ju-ae, the daughter of Kim Jong-un, through the reporting photographs of the Chosun Joongan Tongsin and the Rodong Sinmun. North Korea has institutionalized the hereditary succession through the “Mount Baekdu Bloodline” in accordance with the “Ten Principles for Establishing the Monolithic Ideological System.” Therefore, the appearance of Kim Ju-ae may be seen as a strategic move in preparation for the fourth-generation succession following Kim Jong-un. North Korean domestic and international media outlets, including the Rodong Sinmun and the Chosun Joongan Tongsin, have deliberately portrayed Kim Ju-ae by reporting on her participation in 15 strategic weapon inspections and military events, among other activities. Such portrayals evoke the concept of the "Theatre State" proposed by Clifford Geertz, symbolizing the entire nation as a unified organism and an expanded family with biological Bloodline, which serves as a propaganda strategy to legitimize the continuation of the Mount Baekdu Bloodline as the absolute authority in the post-Kim Jong-un era. In this context, this study is based on the theoretical background of the Mount Baekdu Bloodline and the Theatre State and aims to visually analyze the reported photographs of Kim Ju-ae in the Chosun Joongan Tongsin and the Rodong Sinmun. To achieve this, we selected 40 close-up photographs from the original 95 reported photographs of Kim Ju-ae and conducted visual data analysis using Google’s Vertex AI Vision, a pre-trained machine learning and operations tool (MLOps). The analysis revealed that emotions of joy and neutrality were each represented in half of the observed photographs of Kim Ju-ae's public appearances. This suggests that the photo staging or selection strategy for Kim Ju-ae discerns between expressions associated with private familial interactions with her father and those intended for public presentation to the populace. Her expressions towards her father convey a familial warmth indicative of socialist familialism, while her public expressions are more serious and leader-like, selectively exhibiting joy and neutrality. Hence, this study interprets the portrayal of Kim Ju-ae in the 15 reported instances through Vertex AI Vision analysis as revealing a leader's image that is both amiable and assertive of biological lineage, potentially signifying a deliberate propagandistic orchestration for future succession. This research could transcend the limitations of subjective analysis by experts on North Korea's succession, providing objective data through next-generation artificial intelligence technology.
Suh Jung HoHong Sang HeeJang Soonkyu