Seoul: The young man tipped to become
North Korea`s leader-in-waiting is even more of an enigma than
his father Kim Jong-Il, who has ruled the secretive communist
state with an iron fist since the 1990s.
Kim Jong-Un`s life is shrouded in mystery and the last
known photo of him is more than 10 years old, although he has
been described as "the spitting image" of his father and
experts say he could be a ruthless leader.
Speculation is rife that the 27-year-old will be named
to key Workers` Party positions at a convention next month,
paving the way for him to be formally named heir to the
world`s only communist family dynasty.
In the run-up to the meeting, North Korea`s propaganda
machine has rolled into action to build up the same elaborate
personality cult for Jong-Un that surrounds his father and
grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the founder and "eternal leader" of
In a memoir, Kenji Fujimoto, a former Japanese sushi
chef for Kim Jong-Il, described the Swiss-educated Jong-Un as
a "chip off the old block, a spitting image of his father in
terms of face, body shape and personality."
Despite the dearth of information, Kim Jong-Un has
made headlines since his name was floated by South Korean
media early last year as the man being groomed to succeed his
68-year-old father, who suffered a stroke in August 2008.
Little is known for sure about his character, but
experts think he has traits in common with his father.
"Jong-Un is known to have the potential to become a
strong, ruthless leader. He has a take-charge personality,"
Cheong Seong-Chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong
Institute, told AFP last year.
His likely nomination was first reported by the South
Korean media in January last year and was said at the time to
be totally unexpected even among communist party leaders.
Some analysts had seen second son Kim Jong-Chul as the
favourite to take over. But Fujimoto said in his memoir that
Kim thought of Jong-Chul as too feminine and unfit for
Eldest son Jong-Nam apparently spoiled his prospects
of becoming leader after being deported from Japan in 2001 for
trying to enter with a forged passport.
Speculation about Jong-Un`s rise to power has
intensified with the approach of the September meeting, with
the North reportedly publishing songs and poems about him and
producing badges and posters bearing his image.
It will be only the third such gathering since the
state was founded in 1948 and is seen as the most important
since 1980, when Kim Jong-Il was designated the eventual
successor to Kim Il-Sung, who died in 1994.