North Korean Delegates Gather to Anoint Kim Jong Un His Father's Heir

Regional party delegates from all corners of North Korea have completed their travel to Pyongyang on Wednesday and standing by for their landmark political convention to convene anytime soon.

The largest meeting in 30 years is scheduled to take place in early September at which analysts largely expect North Korea to officially debut its leader Kim Jong Il's son and apparent heir, Kim Jong Un.

"Kim Jong Il must have tested his (three) sons and finally decided the third son is best suited. They've been consistently and carefully preparing for this debut for quite some time," said Chul Ki Ju, professor of international studies at Seoul National University.

Local press in South Korea is predicting the meeting to take place at least by Sept. 15. The reason for the vague delay, many North Korea watchers in Seoul say, is because of Kim Jong Il's failing health.

"If he is to take charge in this historic meeting, he has to sit down for five straight hours for two days. He is simply not fit for that," said Tae-Keung Ha, president of Open Radio for North Korea, a non-profit organization with close regular contacts with sources inside the North.

Little is known to the outside world about the son, Kim Jong-Un, whose age and picture is yet to be confirmed by the North Korean government. Their state media has never mentioned his name or age, or shown his photo in public. But intelligence sources in Seoul have described the younger Kim to be somewhere between 26 to 28 years old. Numerous photos claimed to be of the young heir has appeared in the world media, but most of them are still in dispute.

"No one knows what he looks like, but it is certain that he indeed exists and is slated to be the next leader," said Tae-Gyun Park, professor of international studies at Seoul National University.

The young Kim is not only mysterious to the world, but also to the North Korean people. Eyewitnesses and sources close to North Korea say only recently have the party officials started to openly talk about the "brilliant comrade."

Kim Jong Un's Expected to Be Named Father's Heir

On Jan. 8 this year, the central party is said to have called on a temporary national holiday and gathered up local party members and bureaucrats to privately explain why they are taking the day off. "It was comrade Kim Jong-Un's birthday. So basically it has become official at least within North Korea," said Ha.

But the majority of North Koreans do not really care who the next heir is. "They live in a life or death situation on a daily basis right now. When there's nothing to eat, their interest is not in the internal power struggle," Ha said.

Jong-Un is reported to be the son of Kim Jong-Il's third late wife, Ko Yong-hi who was the prima donna of North Korean opera in early years. She had acted as the de facto first lady and died of breast cancer in 2004.

The likely heir was educated in Switzerland for several years during middle school and is known to have been a fan of NBA basketball. One of the few witnesses who have met the rumored successor, Fujimoto Genji, a former Japanese private chef of Kim Jong Il, wrote in his tell-all book that Jong-Un, at the time 11 years old, was active, competitive and possessed of leadership qualities.

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