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Kim Jong-il

Youngest son of Kim Jong-il tests role as heir

Kim Jong-il 45%

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The third and youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been increasingly visible on official occasions and masterminded some of the country’s major publicity events, such as a recent fireworks extravaganza, in an apparent bid to burnish his image as a successor, sources said Monday. Kim Jong-un, who is believed to have been tapped in January as the isolated state’s next leader, has been seen making efforts to elevate his reputation by organizing the April 15 fireworks show and initiating an economic reconstruction drive, called the “150-day campaign,” sources privy to North Korean internal affairs said on condition of anonymity.


Kim Jong-il was designated as successor by his father and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, in 1974, when he was 32. After his father’s death in 1994, Kim took the helm in the first-ever hereditary power transfer in a communist state. Kim Jong-un, believed to be either 25 or 26 years old, had never appeared in North Korean media reports. He was born to Kim’s third wife, Ko Yong-hi, an actress who died of cancer in 2004. He has an older brother, Jong-chol, and a stepbrother, the leader’s eldest son, Jong-nam. Despite his absence in state media, Jong-un accompanies his father on all his public visits and is stepping up “revolutionary activities to assist and support the supreme leader,” one of the sources said.


Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at the nongovernmental Sejong Institute, said Jong-un, with no major post yet in the Workers’ Party, appears to be attempting impressive feats ahead of his official nomination. He has little if any power base, unlike his father who had built his name even before his father’s designation by holding important party posts and purging factional members. “Kim Jong-il played a role in uniting the party around his father by discovering factional activities and purging pertinent officials,” Cheong said. “But in the case of Jong-un, he is believed to be holding no important post yet and has yet to have tangible public feats such as his father had when he was named as succes. or.”


Yonhap, May 12, 2009

source: joongangdaily.joins.com


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