It looks like North Korea is already grooming one of Kim Jong Il’s sons to take over when his father dies:
SUNGNAM, South Korea — The black-and-white photographs that were published last month in a North Korean newspaper appear no different from other propaganda coming from North Korea: they show the supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, touring a steel plant in a fur cap and his trademark sunglasses.
It is the pudgy but stern-faced young man next to him, dressed in a snappy Western suit and dutifully scribbling in a notebook, who has spurred intense speculation. Could this unidentified man be just a plant manager? Or could this be the first public appearance of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader’s third son and heir apparent?
“There, see how his face is in focus and illuminated even more than Kim Jong-il himself?” said Cheong Seong-chang, a specialist on North Korean politics at the Sejong Institute. “There is a high possibility that this is Kim Jong-un.”
Little is known about the inner workings of the secretive North Korean government, not even the identity of the heir apparent. But if Mr. Cheong is right, the enigmatic photographs are the latest signs of the desperate push that the North Korean government is making to build a cult of personality around the son, who is believed to be 27, to prepare him to assume control as the current leader’s health declines.
The elder Mr. Kim, 68, appeared to suffer a stroke two years ago, and there have been recent reports that he is suffering from kidney disease.
Analysts say that if Mr. Kim dies too soon, his son could be pushed aside in a scramble for power among political and military elites that would end the family’s dynastic rule and might even bring about the collapse of the impoverished totalitarian state.
One could only hope, one could only hope.