September 29, 2010 09:10
North Korea on Tuesday made the third-generation succession to the country's leadership official, the first such event since feudal times. The North's official media reported that leader Kim Jong-il (68) appointed his son Jong-un (27) a four-star Army general. Kim junior was also named to the central committee of the Workers Party and appointed vice-chairman of the party's powerful central military commission, which his father heads.
Kim senior in turn succeeded his own father Kim Il-sung, the founder of modern North Korea.
The KCNA news agency said Kim Jong-il promoted six people to the rank of general -- the others are his sister Kim Kyong-hui (64), Kim Jong-un, Choe Ryong-hae, Hyon Yong-chol, Choe Pu-il and Kim Kyong-ok. It was the first time the secretive regime has publicly named Kim Jong-un.
A Unification Ministry said Kim Jong-il's promotion of both his son and sister "is a signal that he will hand down power for the third generation through the military and his family."
Earlier in June, Jang Song-taek (64), the administration director of the Workers Party who is Kim Kyong-hui's husband, was promoted to vice chairman of the top decision-making National Defense Commission.
Of the six, four -- Kim Jong-un, Kim Kyong-hui, Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Kyong-ok -- have no known military backgrounds. A South Korean security official said the military titles for four prominent civilians who will lead during the Kim Jong-un era point to a continuation of the "Songun" or "military-first" ideology. He added that probably means nuclear arms development will also continue, since it is closely linked to the doctrine.
The North announced altogether 41 promotions of military brass. Among them, Gen. Ri Yong-ho, the chief of the Army general staff, was made a vice marshal.
The party reelected Kim senior general secretary during its first extraordinary congress for the first time in 44 years, which started Tuesday and also elevated Kim Jong-un to his two senior party posts. After prior notice of an "important announcement" at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the North Korean media said the party congress "solemnly" declared that it reelected Kim. He was first elected to the post in October 1997.
According to a former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South, Kim Jong-un's role as party secretary in charge of organization is tantamount to being appointed his father's official heir. Kim Jong-il was given the same post in 1973 and was officially named his father's successor a year later.
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