SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was elected to leadership roles in the ruling Workers’ Party, state media said early Wednesday, bolstering speculation he’s being groomed to succeed his father as leader of the nuclear-armed nation.
The announcement of Kim Jong Un’s election to key party positions came a day after Kim Jong Il made him a four-star general. The announcement of his promotion marked his official debut in North Korean state media.
The son was named vice chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission as well as to the party’s Central Committee, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch from Pyongyang. The posts would be the son’s first known political posts.
His 68-year-old father is widely believed to be preparing the son to succeed him as leader and to take the Kim reign in North Korea to a third generation. The elder Kim, who rules the nation of 24 million with absolute authority, reportedly suffered a stroke two years ago and is said to be suffering from diabetes and kidney trouble.
The military commission is authorized to formulate the party’s military policies, direct the country’s 1.2 million-member army and oversee military build-up projects, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. KCNA said Kim Jong Il remains chairman of the commission.
Kim Kyong Hui, the leader’s younger sister, retained her post on the Central Committee while her husband, Jang Song Thaek, was named a department director of the Central Committee, KCNA said.