Tuesday, April 20, 2010

North Korea: rare photograph of Kim Jong-il's heir apparent emerges

A Japanese newspaper has published a photo of a man that it claims is the elusive heir-apparent to North Korea's ailing leader, Kim Jong-il.

The Mainichi newspaper printed a photo of a round-faced and well-dressed man accompanying North Korea's "Dear Leader" on a visit to a steel mill in North Hamgyong Province in March.

Kim Jong-un is being groomed to take over from his father, whom some experts believe to be suffering from the after-effects of a stroke that has been worsened by long-standing diabetes as well as kidney and heart disease.

Little is known of his third son and the last photos confirmed to have been of Kim Jong-un were taken when he was in his early teens. Now believed to be in his late 20s, North Korea's state-run media has been gradually raising his profile over the last 18 months, since his two other brothers apparently fell out of favor.