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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son 'made a general'

North Korean delegates, undated handout from state media State media released images of ranks of delegates arriving in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, has been appointed a general, amid rumours he is being anointed as successor.
State television said the elder Kim had been reappointed as leader, at the start of a meeting of the ruling party.
The Workers' Party has not met for decades and observers believe Kim Jong-il may be cementing the family dynasty.
The succession is being closely watched because of the North's nuclear programme and hostility with the South.
The announcement about Kim Jong-il's third and youngest son is his first mention by name in state media and his nomination as a four-star general comes despite a lack of military experience.
The television announcer was quoted as saying that Kim Jong-il had been reappointed as general secretary of the Workers' Party as an "expression of absolute support and trust".
The 68-year-old leader is reportedly suffering from several illnesses. He is believed to have had a stroke two years ago, and has travelled to China for treatment.
Neither Pyongyang nor Beijing have publicly commented on rumours surrounding his health.
The Workers Party meeting, with a stated aim of installing a new leadership team, has now opened.


With Kim Jong-il visibly frail and sick, speculation has been mounting that this meeting is designed to officially anoint Kim Jong-un as his chosen successor.
The theory is given added weight because Kim Jong-il himself was anointed in this way by his own father, the country's first and now "eternal" president, during the last major party event in 1980.
If Kim Jong-un is now given a senior party position to complement his newly-bestowed military rank it will be a strong sign that the authoritarian state really does intend to continue its quasi-religious leadership cult for another generation.
Final confirmation would come if the enigmatic young man's portrait appears alongside that of his father and grandfather in every home and workplace.

Continue reading the main story
Kim Jong-il's sister, Kyong-hui, has also been named a general, announced the state-run Korean Central News Agency. Kyong-hui is married to Chang Song-taek, seen by some analysts as North Korea's second-most powerful leader.
A US official said it was too soon to tell what was happening inside North Korea's leadership, but the United States was watching developments "carefully".
Reports from South Korea on Monday suggested that the military had nominated Kim Jong-un as a delegate for the conference.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted an unnamed North Korean source as saying a propaganda campaign had already begun to raise Kim Jong-un's profile.
Little is known of Swiss-educated Kim Jong-un, thought to be in his mid-20s.
Rumours emerged last year from the secretive state that he was his father's chosen successor.
Analysts say taking over his father's job would be a huge task for someone with so little experience.
'Eternal president'

Images released by the North's state media on Monday showed orderly lines of delegates - some wearing suits, others in military uniform - arriving in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-il file image Kim Jong-il has nurtured a personality cult

The Associated Press reported that the capital was decorated with flags and placards announcing the meeting.
One poster read: "Warm congratulations to the representatives meeting of the Workers Party of Korea."
KCNA reported that party delegates visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang on Monday to pay respects to North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, father of Kim Jong-il.
Kim Il-sung is known as the "eternal president", while Kim Jong-il has styled himself the "dear leader".
Kim Jong-il became leader when his father died in 1994.
Under Kim Jong-il, the country's isolation from the outside world has become entrenched.
Mr Kim has built up a personality cult around his family, while North Korea's economy has all but ceased to function and its people suffer from frequent food shortages.

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