North Korea's leader-in-waiting goes on show

A photograph of a plump, poker-faced young man seated near North Korea's ailing ruler confirmed the rise of Kim Jong-il's youngest son as the leader-in-waiting of the secretive state.

Kim Jong-un was this week appointed to senior political and military posts in the isolated state, whose aspirations to be a nuclear weapons power has worried the outside world for years.

The photo, published by state media today, is the first picture since the appointment of the 20-something third son of Kim Jong-il and about whom little is known other than he was educated in Switzerland. The only previous known photos of him date back to his childhood.

Park Young-ho of the Korean Institute for National Unification said the photograph provided unwritten confirmation that the young Kim was the heir apparent.

"It has now been made public he is the successor ... the picture shows that Kim Jong-un is now the second man in North Korea's power echelon," he said.

The official group photograph of dozens of military and civilian officials showed a young man seated in the front row, two places to the right of Kim Jong-il.

Although he was not officially identified, the young man was the only person in the photograph around Jong-un's age. A unification ministry source in Seoul said the man, dressed in traditional Maoist-style attire, was most likely Kim Jong-un.

Seated immediately to the leader's right was another rising star, Ri Yong-ho, who is considered among the new generation of military cadre who could act as a link when Kim turns over power to his son.

The photo was taken in front of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the former official residence of Jong-un's grandfather and founder of the North Korean state Kim Il-sung - and to whom he showed a resemblance.

A few hours later, North Korean TV showed footage of the same sombre-looking young man at the ruling party conference, standing amongst hundreds of other delegates in an austere auditorium.

The young Kim, with short hair and of average height, was pictured clapping in the first row of the audience, and was positioned near his aunt and "minder" Kim Kyong-hui.

After months of speculation, the untested Jong-un was this week made second-in-command to his father on the ruling Workers' Party's powerful Central Military Commission.

Jong-un, whose existence was not acknowledged in North Korea until this week, was made a general in one of the world's largest armies. He was also appointed a party Central Committee member at the biggest political meeting in the impoverished state for 30 years.

Rising with him were the leader's sister Kyong-hui and her husband, creating a powerful triumvirate ready to take over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since its founding after World War Two.

Kim Jong-il, 68, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 although it was difficult to assess his health from the latest photo. North Korea's paramount leader has shown no sign of losing his grip on power and was reappointed on Tuesday as secretary-general of the Workers' Party.

A stable succession would be a relief to its economically powerful neighbours - China, South Korea and Japan - who worry regime collapse could result in massive refugee flows and possibly descend into civil war.

Meanwhile, the first meeting between the militaries of the rival Koreas in two years ended without progress today, officials said.

During the talks at the border truce village of Panmunjom, South Korean military officials "strongly urged North Korea to admit to, apologise for and punish those responsible for the attack on the Cheonan warship", the defence ministry said.

Ties between the Koreas, technically still at war after agreeing only a truce at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, plummeted to the lowest level in decades with the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors.

South Korea says a North Korean submarine fired a missile that sank the boat, but Pyongyang denies responsibility.

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities