Saturday 21 April 2018

Kim Jong-un receives another promotion

Peter Foster

Kim Jong-un, North Korea's heir apparent, has received another promotion as he continues his rapid ascent up the country's military and political hierarchy, South Korean media has reported.

The 28-year-old son of the ailing Kim Jong-il was promoted to vice chairman of the North's most senior decision making body, the National Defence Commission, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in Seoul said, citing anonymous sources familiar with the situation.

Analysts said the promotion – which comes after Kim Jnr was last year appointed as a four-star general and vice chair of the politically influential Central Military Commission – would appear to again confirm Jong-un as North Korea's *de facto* leader-in-waiting.

The promotion was handed out in Pyongyang on February 10 in front of thousands of senior officers of the People's Army, the Internal Security Forces, the State Security Department, and the Ministry of Public Security, the paper said.

The Swiss-educated Jong-un is apparently being rapidly groomed to take over from his father who suffered a stroke in 2008.

After serving a long political apprenticeship, Kim Jong-il became chairman of the commission in 1993, a sign that he was taking power from his father, Kim Il-sung who died the following year.

The younger Kim this week received the public backing of China during a visit to Pyongyang by China's public security minister Meng Jianzhu, the North's state media said.

However analysts caution that Jong-un's route to the top will be less assured than his father's as he races to build a political power base in the North's all-powerful military at a time when the North is facing chronic food and fuel shortages.

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