Kim Jong-un Named 1st Secretary of the Workers Party

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was appointed to the new post of first secretary of the Workers Party, while his dead father Kim Jong-il was named "general secretary for eternity." The appointment completes Kim Jong-un's rise to the supreme leadership of the Stalinist country.

"It looks like the new position was created to let Kim Jong-un show deference to elder members of the party while at the same time exercising control," said Prof. Yoo Ho-yeol at Korea University.

A government source here said the first secretary has the same status and wields the same power as a secretary general.

North Korean new leader Kim Jong-un pays tribute to his late father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace after being named first secretary of the Workers Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap North Korean new leader Kim Jong-un pays tribute to his late father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace after being named first secretary of the Workers Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap

Kim Jong-il held the titles of commander of the military, party secretary general and chairman of the National Defense Commission. On Dec. 30, Kim Jong-un assumed the title of commander of the military, which gives him control of the North's nuclear weapons and missiles.

Since his father's death, Kim Jong-un has focused mainly on getting the military under some kind of control. Most of his public appearances have been visits to military bases. "Until March, it appears that Kim Jong-un went all out to win over the hearts and minds of the troops," said the government source. "Now that he's been appointed first secretary, he is expected to shift his focus to gaining control of the party."

Whether Kim Jong-un will also assume the title of chairman of the National Defense Commission will be determined at the rubberstamp Supreme People's Assembly scheduled to meet on Friday. Some experts believe Kim Jong-un will also bestow the title of "chairman for eternity" of the NDC on his late father and lead another commission created to replace it.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 12, 2012 10:01 KST