London: Adding fuel to speculation that
North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong-il may finally step down,
a Japanese newspaper has published what it claims is a rare
photo of the elusive dictator's heir-apparent - his third son.
'The Mainichi' newspaper has published the photo of
the roundfaced and well-dressed "Kim Jong-un" accompanying Kim
Jong-il on a visit to a steel plant in North Hamgyong Province
in March, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
Kim Jong-un is being groomed to take over from his
father, whom some experts believe to be suffering from after
-effects of a stroke that has been worsened by longstanding
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 favour, the British newspaper said.
Kim Jong-un last week organised the fireworks display
along the Taedong River in Pyongyang to mark 'The Day of the
Sun', the 98th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the
founder of the nation and Kim Jong-il's father.
Kim Jong-il was himself entrusted with the event
shortly before assuming a more important role in the Central
Committee of the North Korean Workers' Party. The lavish
fireworks display is said to have cost 3.5 million pounds.
First Published: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 17:39