North Korea’s state media on Monday called Kim Jong-il’s heir the head of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, which would give Kim Jong Un power over one of the country’s highest decision-making bodies more than a week after his father’s death.
The reference in a commentary by the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper came as two groups of prominent South Koreans with ties to Pyongyang travelled to North Korea to pay respects to Kim Jong-il, who is being mourned by millions in his homeland.
North Korean soldiers, Rodong Sinmun said, are upholding a slogan urging them to dedicate their lives to protect the committee headed by Kim Jong Un. The slogan means that Kim will likely be appointed as the party’s general secretary, one of the country’s highest positions.
North Korea is in official mourning for Kim until after a memorial Thursday. But the country is also offering hints about Kim Jong Un’s rise as ruler. North Korea began hailing him as “supreme leader” of the 1.2—million strong military over the weekend.
Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s and was unveiled in September 2010 as his father’s choice as successor, will be the third-generation Kim to rule the communist nation of 24 million.