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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape