Despite his visibly fragile health, Kim Jong-Il has been reappointed as leader of North Korea.
The announcement coincides with an historic meeting of the national Workers’ Party – it’s first since 1980 – which is, some say, aimed at making key appointments.
North Korea is the world’s only family-run communist dictatorship.
Hours before today’s gathering began, Kim Jong-Il made his hitherto unknown third son Kim Jong-Un a top general, potentially paving the way for a transfer of power.
South Koreans do not see the promotion as a progressive one:
“Authorising Kim Jong-Un to the rank of general means North Korea will continue its ‘military-first’ policy, and also publicising the fact that he was promoted means it is official that one day he will take power.” said North Korean expert Professor Yang Moo-jin.
Despite its faltering economy and severe food shortages, North Korea’s armed forces are among the world’s largest, with 1.2 million personnel.
The succession issue is significant due to concerns over the resulting chaos and upheaval should the nuclear power’s authoritarian regime falter.