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North Korea leader's son promoted, seen as heir

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By Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The ascension of Kim Jong Il's little-known, 20-something son to a prominent ruling party post put him well on the path Wednesday to succeed the supreme leader at the helm of nuclear-armed North Korea and carry the family dynasty into a third generation.

Kim's Swiss-educated, youngest son was made a four-star general in his first mention in North Korea's state media on Tuesday. In the early hours of Wednesday, the communist nation announced that Kim Jong Un was appointed to the Workers' Party Central Committee.

Kim Jong Il has led the nation with absolute authority since taking over in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, in the communist world's first father-to-son transfer of power.

Many are predicting another hereditary succession since the 68-year-old reportedly suffered a stroke in August 2008. There are concerns that his sudden death without a leadership plan in place could spark chaos in the nation of 24 million that he rules under a "military-first" policy.

Noticeably thinner and grayer, Kim Jong Il has resumed touring factories and farms but is said to be suffering from diabetes and kidney trouble.


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