Kim Jong-il's son takes centre stage at parade

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The Independent Online

North Korea's presumed leader-in-waiting, Kim Jong-un, continued his rapid political rise over the weekend when he accompanied his father Kim Jong-il to one the biggest military parades in the state's history.

The presence of the two in front of the world's media at celebrations to mark the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, confirms speculation that Kim Jong-il's youngest son is being fast-tracked to power.

Last week Kim Jong-un, believed to be 27, was catapulted from obscurity to senior military and political rank at an extraordinary Workers' Party conference. He is now referred to as "General Kim" in state media. Celebrations to mark the 65th anniversary were broadcast live across the county as the two Kims, flanked by the Armed Forces Minister Kim Yong-chun, looked on.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang's highest-ranking defector, Hwang Jang-yop, died yesterday in his South Korean home. Mr Hwang, 87, became one of Pyongyang's most hated enemies when he made revelations about, among other things, the 1990s famine that he says may have killed over two million people.