North Korea heir apparent debuts at military parade

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SEOUL - The son and apparent successor of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made a high-profile debut Sunday at a massive military parade through the streets of Pyongyang.

Kim Jong-Un, believed to be in his late 20s, took his place on the viewing podium with his father to preside at the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the country’s ruling Korean Workers Party.

The parade was said to be the largest in Pyongyang in years.

The son’s appearance follows by two weeks his appointment to the central committee of the North Korean communist party.

He was also named vice chairman of the party’s powerful central military commission, and was promoted to four-star general.

Kim Jong-Un appeared in a business suit, according to a photograph made by the North Korean state media - Korean Central News Agency - and published by the European Photo Agency.

CNN broadcast live images of the parade, which included a display of weapons, tanks and missiles. Large blocks of troops marched in geometric formation, passing through each other with precision coordination.

On Friday, the US said it assumed that Kim Jong Il would transfer power to his son when he is no longer capable of running the country.

“We’ve been seeing signs for quite a long time that the succession was moving in this direction in North Korea,” US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said at a Pentagon press conference with South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young.

“That’s the assumption that we’re all working on, that he will in fact at some point take on that leadership role,” Gates said.

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