Seoul: North Korean`s heir apparent appeared
to be absent from the entourage on leader Kim Jong-II`s trip
to Russia, according to a list announced by the North`s state
media during the rare visit.
Korean Central News Agency confirmed today Kim`s
"unofficial visit to Siberia and the Far East" region at the
invitation of Russian leader Dmitri Medvedev, calling it a
A large group of government and military officials were
accompanying Kim including defence minister Kim Yong-Chun,
vice premier Kang Sok-Ju and Jang Song-Thaek, the leader`s
brother-in-law and vice head of the powerful National Defence
Commission, KCNA said.
But Jong-Un, the leader`s youngest son and heir apparent,
was not listed in the official entourage.
The young protege, believed to be in his late 20s, was
made a general and given senior posts in the ruling communist
party last September.
The leader, who suffered a stroke in August 2008, has been
grooming his Swiss-educated son as eventual successor in an
attempt to extend the family dynasty into a third generation.
Kim Jong-II took over in the late 1990s from his father
and founding president Kim II-Sung, who built the dynasty that
has ruled the impoverished country with an iron first for more
than six decades.
Jong-Un, known to be expanding his role in policy-making,
has not yet been spotted accompanying his father to diplomatic
trips overseas including the leader`s surprise visit to China