Kim Jong-un takes control of N Korean military


North Korea has announced that Kim Jong-un has been officially named supreme commander of the military, further strengthening his authority after the death of his father, long-time North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Officials and state media have bestowed on Kim Jong-un, who is in his late 20s, a string of titles as North Korea's elite rally around him in the wake of his father's death this month after 17 years in power.

But the title Supreme Commander - and its formal proclamation by the powerful Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party - is a clear sign that Kim Jong-un is fast consolidating power over North Korea.

It is also the latest step in a burgeoning personality cult around him.

Kim Jong-un's age and inexperience have raised questions outside North Korea about his leadership of a nation engaged in delicate negotiations over its nuclear programme and grappling with decades of economic hardship and chronic food shortages.

But the North has moved quickly to show the world a unified face.

Kim Jong-un should be "the only centre of unity, cohesion and leadership" of the Workers' Party, North Korea's state media said, and the 1.2 million-strong military should uphold the "songun", or military-first, politics laid down by Kim Jong-il.

The party said the country should unite around Kim Jong-un and strengthen "the monolithic leadership system of the dear respected Comrade Kim Jong-un throughout the party and society".

An unannounced Workers' Party meeting yesterday proclaimed that the younger Kim "assumed supreme command of the Korean People's Army" according to a will made by Kim Jong-il on October 8, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement.

The meeting of the North's ruling party came one day after the official mourning period for Kim Jong-il ended and senior military and political officials publicly declared Kim Jong-un leader of the party, military and people at a massive memorial for his father.

Titles are an important part of North Korea's efforts to link Kim Jong-un to the myth-building surrounding the Kim family legacy.

Kim Il Sung, the country's first and only president, retains the title Eternal President even after his death.

Kim Jong-il held three main positions: chairman of the National Defence Commission, general secretary of the Workers' Party and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army.

According to the constitution, his position as chairman of the National Defence Commission made him Supreme Leader of North Korea.

Kim Jong-un was made a four-star general last year and appointed a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party.

Since his father's death, he has picked up major titles from officials and state media: Great Successor, Supreme Leader and Great Leader. And now he has officially been named Supreme Commander.