- Taxes on some wealthy French top 100 pct of income: paper
- Shooting death of gay man rocks New York's cradle of gay rights
- Imran Khan's party wins revote in Karachi, protests expected
- Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift big winners at Billboard Awards
- Global shares grind higher, yen edges up on Amari comments |
NEWSMAKER-North Korea's Kim seen extending dynasty
(For full coverage of North Korea, click [ID:nSP431049]
By Jonathan Thatcher
SEOUL, June 2 (Reuters) - South Korean media reports on Tuesday said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has anointed his youngest son to continue the family dynasty that has ruled the impoverished communist state since it was founded.
Speculation over the succession has grown after reports that Kim, who took over from his father in 1994, suffered a stroke last year.
Many analysts believe the North's internationally condemned nuclear test a week ago and increasingly belligerent tone was partly aimed at boosting the 67-year-old leader's standing at home to give him more leverage in naming an heir.
Several South Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim had named the youngest of his three known sons, Kim Jong-un. [ID:nSEO175471]
There is no confirmed photograph of the adult Kim Jong-un and his age is uncertain. He was born either in 1983 or early 1984.
There is a question too over whether his late mother, a Japanese-born professional dancer called Ko Yong-hui, was Kim Jong-il's official wife or mistress -- an issue that might weigh on his legitimacy to replace his father.
Even by intensely secretive North Korean standards, very little is known about the son, whose youth is also a potential problem in a society that adheres closely to the importance of seniority.
Kim Jong-il was very publicly named heir by his father, Kim Il-sung, but he has studiously avoided repeating the process.
None of his three sons are mentioned in state media, much of whose efforts are focused on eulogising the current leader and his father who became North Korea's eternal president.
Kim Jong-un is thought to be Swiss-educated and able to speak English and German.
In a book on his time as chef to the ruling household, Kenji Fujimori said that of the three sons, the youngest Kim most resembles his father.
He is also reported to have a ruthless streak and the strongest leadership skills of the three. And, perhaps more importantly, he is thought to be his father's favourite.
Park Syung-je, a Seoul-based analyst with the Asia Strategy Institute, said he believed Kim junior had the backing of Jang Song-taek, effectively the country's number 2 leader.
Kim Jong-il in April promoted Jang, his brother-in-law, to the powerful National Defence Commission, which many analysts took to be an attempt to establish a mechanism for the eventual transfer of power, with Jang as kingmaker.
South Korean media have speculated that Kim Jong-un may also suffer diabetes, something that is thought to have long plagued his father.
(Additional reporting by Kim Jung-hyun and Jack Kim, Editing by Dean Yates)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this