Ailing Kim-Jong-Il names son to lead NKorea

5th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Swiss-educated son Jong-Un is next in line to rule communist North Korea.

Seoul -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il appears to have speeded up the transfer of power to one of his sons because of his declining health, a South Korean minister said on Thursday.

Kim, now 67, may be "accelerating a procedure to transfer power to his son due to his worsening health," Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek, who is in charge of cross-border relations, told a forum.

Hyun, in his first comments on the succession, did not say which son would inherit power.

South Korean lawmakers, quoting the country's intelligence service, said on Tuesday that Kim had nominated his third and youngest son, 26-year-old Jong-Un who was educated at an international school in Switzerland.

There has been intense speculation about the future leadership of the hardline communist state since Kim Jong-Il reportedly suffered a stroke last August.

Kim, who inherited power from his father Kim Il-Sung in the communist world's only dynastic succession, has resumed most of his duties but looks noticeably older and more gaunt.

According to reports, North Koreans are being taught new songs aimed at instilling loyalty to the next leader.

Hyun said the reported stroke might have prompted Kim to push for another father-to-son succession in a hurry and take a harder line to the outside world.

Pyongyang showed "a very aggressive attitude" after Kim's health began declining, he said.

The minister said his office has yet to confirm that Jung-Un is the chosen successor.

Analysts believe Kim the elder staged the 25 May nuclear test to shore up his authority among the party and military in preparation for an eventual power transfer.

Hyun agreed that Kim's "anxiety over the uncertain future of his regime" is behind the North's "provocative activities towards the outside world as well as recent developments inside North Korea."

Since the test the North has launched short-range missiles, renounced the truce which ended the 1950--1953 Korean War and threatened attacks on the South.

Pyongyang is also said to be preparing to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile as well as several medium-range missiles.

Little is known about Jong-Un but the basketball fan has been described as a "chip off the old block."

Jong-Un was born to the leader's third wife Ko Yong-Hi, who reportedly died of breast cancer in 2004, and was educated at an international school in Switzerland.

AFP / Expatica

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