NKorea heir apparent wins senior party posts

2010-09-29 13:58

Seoul, South Korea – The youngest son of ailing leader Kim Jong-Il has taken over powerful posts in North Korea’s ruling party, state media said today, confirming his status as heir apparent in the nuclear-armed nation.

Kim Jong-Un was named one of two vice-chairmen of the central military commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and a member of its central committee, a day after his father appointed him a four-star general.

“Now the crown prince has all he needs to become the next leader,” said Choi Jin-Wook, senior analyst with the South’s Korea Institute for National Unification.

Jong-Un’s high position on the military commission chaired by his father gives him considerable authority over one of the world’s largest armed forces, numbering almost 1.2 million.

The speed of his ascent may indicate the 68-year-old father’s health is worse than believed, some analysts said.

Kim Jong-Il, who took over from his own father and national founder Kim Il-Sung, suffered a stroke in 2008 and is also thought to have kidney problems.

The Swiss-educated son, believed to be aged about 27, had never been named in state media before this week. No adult photograph has been seen outside the secretive communist nation.

The United States is “watching and looking for details (on the son) just about like everyone else,” said Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, adding he would visit Japan and South Korea next week to discuss the changes.

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