The son and heir of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been declared by North Korean officials as the country’s new “Supreme Leader” on Thursday.
Kim Jong-un was announced the isolated country’s new “Supreme Leader” of the ruling Workers’ party, military, and the people at a memorial service held for his late father in Pyongyang in Kim Il-sung square.
The service marked the end of nearly two weeks of mourning since the news of Kim Jong-il’s death stunned the small peninsula.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Kim Yong-nam, the country’s ceremonial head of state and president of Parliament, commented on the situation. He said that although North Korea was suffering a great loss, the country would “transform the sorrow into strength and courage one thousand times greater under the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un.”
He also said that the new successor was gifted with his father’s “ideology, character, and revolutionary spirit.”
The announcement was the first public endorsement of Kim Jong-il’s son since the sudden death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” was announced via North Korean state television on Dec 19.
However, Kim Jong-un’s leadership position will not become official until senior members of the Workers’ party, parliament and government meet to confirm his title.
Little is known about the young and inexperienced Kim Jong-un, although many have pointed to his Swiss education and his love of NBA basketball as a possible glimmer of hope for a new North Korea.
Kim Jong-un is the youngest son of the late North Korean leader and offspring of his alleged favorite third wife, Ko Yong-hui. It is believed that he is in his late 20s and was born in 1983 or early in 1984. Jong-un also has two older brothers: Kim Jong-nam, who is a half-brother, and Kim Jong-chul, who is a full brother.
Despite Kim Jong-un being the third son of Kim Jong-il, many commentators took his 2009 appointment to the National Defense Commission, North Korea’s most important government body, as confirmation that he had been chosen to succeed his father.
Despite his age and Western education, many feel that Kim Jong-un’s leadership will not differ greatly from the 17-year iron-fisted rule of his father. North Korea has confirmed this, saying that Kim Jong-un will be following in his father’s footsteps by maintaining a “military-first” policy.
The young leader is reported to suffer similar health problems to that of his late father, suffering from both diabetes and heart disease.