Seoul: Analysts watching the leadership succession process in secretive and bitterly cold North Korea are pondering a potential new clue -- Kim Jong-Un`s furry hat.
The youngest son and heir apparent of leader Kim Jong-Il was seen wearing the same pricey otter fur headgear as his father during a visit to an art studio in Pyongyang reported by state media on January 23.
A clear sign of Jong-Un`s rising status "is that he now wears the top-quality fur hat reserved for Kim Jong-Il", said a Seoul government official quoted by Chosun Ilbo newspaper on Saturday.
The headgear -- designed by a foreign craftsman -- is a luxury only allowed to the leader, it quoted a defector, also unidentified, as saying.
"It`s an unwritten rule that nobody else can wear such a hat. So if Kim Jong-Un is also wearing one, it means he has now reached almost the same status as his father," the defector said.
While other senior staffers sometimes wear similar hats, they are industrial products of far inferior quality, a North Korean source was quoted as saying.
Lee Jong-Joo, a spokeswoman for South Korea`s Unification Ministry, said on Monday that efforts to "idolise" Jong-Un are underway but it was not possible to pinpoint the fur hat as a sign of his rising power.
Jong-Un, believed to be 28, was made a general and given senior posts in the ruling communist party last September, confirming his status as leader-in-waiting.