North Korea will probably appoint Leader Kim Jong-Il’s third and youngest son as his successor, news reports said on Tuesday.
Two major South Korean newspapers said Tuesday that North Korea's military, party and government officials were informed that Kim Jong Un will take the communist country into a third generation.
South Korean spies said on Tuesday the communist state's most powerful institutions had sworn loyalty to Kim Jong Un. The apparent appointment comes at a time of mounting tensions over North Korea's April 5 rocket launch and last week's nuclear test.
Political analysts said Mr. Kim has heightened military tensions on the peninsula as a show of internal strength, deterring any challengers to the succession of his dynasty.
We can say the evidence now all points to the third son, but with things as sensitive as they are at the moment, anything can still happen,” one South Korean security official said.
The absence of a clear succession has long been one of North Korea’s biggest strategic weaknesses. Kim Jong-Il was styled as heir apparent for more than a decade before his father, Kim Il-sung, died in 1994.
Mr. Kim is believed to want to name a successor by 2012--the centenary of the birth of his father, North Korea's founder Kim II Sung.
And the regime undertook a massive campaign last year to gear the country up for the 100th anniversary celebrations.
The regime called the April 5 launch of a satellite into space part of the campaign to show off the country's scientific advancements. While the U.S., Japan and others called it a cover for a test of long-range missile technology.
Last month, the regime stepped up the pace and launched a 150-day battle urging North Koreans to work harder to build the country's economy.
Before 2012, North Korea must convince the army and the public that Jong Un is the best successor, said Atsuhito Isozaki, assistant professor of North Korean politics at Tokyo's private Keio University.
To pave the way for Jong Un's leadership, it is highly likely that North Korea will turn recent nuclear and missile tests into his achievements.
Kim Jong-un, born either in 1983 or early 1984, was educated in Switzerland. And very little is known about the son, whose youth is a potential problem in a society that adheres closely to the importance of seniority.