Image: Moon Hyung-jin carries wreath
AP
Moon Hyung-jin, president of the Unification Church, second from right, carries a wreath with unidentified men to lay in front of a portrait of the late Kim Jong Il at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Saturday.
updated 12/24/2011 10:12:41 PM ET 2011-12-25T03:12:41

North Korea on Sunday aired footage showing the uncle and key patron of anointed heir Kim Jong Un wearing a military uniform with a general's insignia — a strong sign he'll play a greater role in efforts to secure the young man's rise to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, a week ago.

The footage on state television showed Jang Song Thaek paying respects at Kim Jong Il's body lying in state at Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It indicates Jang has been appointed to a new military job. Seoul's Unification Ministry says it's the first time Jang has been shown wearing a military uniform on state TV.

South Korean intelligence has predicted Kim Jong Un's aunt Kim Kyong Hui, a key Workers' Party official, and her husband Jang, who is a vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, will play larger roles supporting the heir.

The North is ramping up its campaign to install Kim Jong Un as the nation's next leader as the mourning for his father continued a week after his death.

North Korea is hailing heir Kim Jong Un as "supreme leader" of the 1.2-million strong military.

Kim Jong Un made a third visit Saturday to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace — this time as "supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces" and accompanied by North Korea's top military brass, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

The new title and public show of support from the military leadership sent a strong signal that the nation will maintain Kim Jong Il's "military first" policy for the time being.

Earlier Saturday, the newspaper Rodong Sinmun, mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, urged Kim Jong Un to accept the top military post: "Comrade Kim Jong Un, please assume the supreme commandership, as wished by the people."

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 nation of 24 million. His father and grandfather led the country under different titles, and it remains unclear which other titles will be bestowed on the grandson.

Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea in 1948, retains the title of "eternal president" even after his death in 1994.

Son Kim Jong Il ruled as chairman of the National Defense Commission, supreme commander of the Korean People's Army and general secretary of the Workers' Party.

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Kim Jong Un was promoted to four-star general and appointed a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party. He had been expected to assume a number of other key posts while being groomed to succeed his father.

His father's death comes at a sensitive time for North Korea, which was in the middle of negotiations with the U.S. on restarting talks to dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid, and had been preparing for 2012 celebrations marking Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday. Suffering from a shortfall in basic staples after several harsh seasons, officials also had been asking for help feeding its people.

North Korea has emphasized the Kim family legacy during the sped-up succession movement for Kim Jong Un. State media invoked Kim Il Sung in declaring the people's support for the next leader, comparing the occasion to Kim Jong Il's ascension to "supreme commander" exactly 20 years ago Saturday.

At the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Kim Jong Un and senior commanders paid silent tribute to the late leader, "praying for his immortality," KCNA said. The military also pledged its loyalty to Kim Jong Un, the report said.

"Let the whole army remain true to the leadership of Kim Jong Un over the army," KCNA reported — a pledge reminiscent of those made when Kim Jong Il was named supreme commander.

Slideshow: Journey into North Korea (on this page)

The call to rally behind Kim Jong Un, dubbed the "Great Successor" in the wake of his father's death on Dec. 17 from a heart attack, comes amid displays of grief across North Korea. The country is to remain in an official state of mourning until after Kim's funeral Wednesday and a memorial Thursday.

In Pyongyang, mourners continued Saturday to bow and lay flowers at Kim's portrait at plazas and government buildings, including the Pyongyang Circus Theater and Kim Il Sung Square, even as temperatures dropped to 14 degrees below Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit).

At the April 25 People's Army House of Culture, workers at beverage kiosks handed steaming cups of water to shivering mourners, including children bundled up in colorful thick parkas. A sign urged mourners to thaw out inside a heated bus.

The order to provide food and warming huts for mourners came from Kim Jong Un, officials said.

Earlier, a throng of North Koreans climbed stairs and placed flowers and wreaths neatly in a row below a portrait of Kim Jong Il as solemn music filled the air and young uniformed soldiers, their heads shaved, bowed before his picture.

A sobbing Jong Myong Hui, a Pyongyang citizen taking a break from shoveling snow, told AP Television News that she came out voluntarily to "clear the way for Kim Jong Il's last journey."

For days, life in Pyongyang has come to a standstill, with shops and restaurants closed. Downtown Koryo Hotel, one of several in Pyongyang catering to foreigners, was nearly empty.

But there are signs that the country is beginning to move on.

"Streets, buses and the metro are all crowded with people going to their work. They are not giving way simply to sorrow," KCNA said. "They are getting over the demise of their leader, promoted by a strong will to closely rally around respected Comrade Kim Jong Un."

Among the mourners in Pyongyang was the youngest son of Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who is expected to take over the multibillion-dollar religious and business empire founded by his father in South Korea.

Interactive: Meet North Korea’s first family (on this page)

The Rev. Hyung-jin Moon helped carry a wreath to the main mourning site at Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang. The American-born Moon had been in North Korea earlier in the month. The church has several business interests in North Korea.

The Korean peninsula has remained in a technical state of war since the Koreas' 1950-53 conflict, but two groups from South Korea have received permission from the South Korean government to visit the North to pay their respects, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Choi Boh-seon said Saturday.

One group will be led by the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, who held a landmark summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000, and the other by the wife of a late businessman with ties to the North.

Citizens in Pyongyang, meanwhile, received a special gift from the late Kim Jong Il: loads of fish. State-run media said Kim was worried about the supply of fish in Pyongyang and had looked into the matter the day before he died.

Rodong Sinmun showed a photo of a woman covering her mouth in sadness and gratitude as she watched loads of herring and walleye pollack being distributed at a crowded grocery store where they were piled up in baskets.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Kim Jong Il through the years

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  1. Happy family

    Kim Jong Il as a child with his father Kim Il Sung and first wife Kim Jong Suk. (Noboru Hashimoto / Corbis Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Young student

    A1963 photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Il when he was a student of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. With his friends

    Kim Jong Il, second person from right, takes part of a souvenir picture with his friends in this undated photo. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Official business

    In his young days working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Training exercise

    Kim Jong Il leads the firearms training of the February 2nd National Sport Defense team members while he was working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Meeting with farmers

    Kim Jong Il talks with farmers when he was in the Central Committee, May 21, 1971. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Test drive

    Kim Jong Il takes a test drive of a play equipment combat plane in Taesong amusement park, Pyongyang in North Korea,Oct. 2, 1977. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Filmmaking

    Kim Jong Il gives advice at the shooting of "An Jung Geun Avenges Hirobumi Ito," a narrative film. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Father and son

    Kim Jong Il was anointed successor to his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1980. Known as the "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung and his son are shown attending a Korean Worker's Party convention in October of that year. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Family portrait

    Kim Jong Il, bottom left, poses memebers of his family in this 1981 photo in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sitting at right is his son, Jong-Nam, Kim's sister-in-law Sung Hye-Rang stands at top left with her daughter Lee Nam-Ok, center and son Lee Il-Nam, top right. While virtually nothing is known about the leader's personal life, an attempt by his first-born son Kim Jong Nam, bottom right, to enter Japan on a false passport in May, 2001, briefly shone a light onto his family's private dealings. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Applause please

    Kim Jong Il meets with Korean People's Army personnel in this Sept., 1988, photo. North Korea is believed to be the most heavily militarized country in the world on a per capita basis. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Like father, like son

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il stands next to his father, Kim Il Sung, inspecting a football field in Pyongyang. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Silent famine

    Residents of Taziri, North Korea, wait for Red Cross food supplies in December 1995, not long after the death of Kim Il Sung left Kim Jong Il in control of the country. At the time, around 130,000 North Koreans were reportedly on the brink of famine and 500,000 were homeless. (Calvi Parisetti / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Kim looking at things

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il inspects cucumbers harvested inside the 770th army base near Nyon Won power plant in Pyonan-Namdo. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Frenemies?

    South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, right, hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at the end of their summit meeting at the airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. The two leaders held historic talks for three days in June 2000. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A visitor from Russia

    Kim Jong Il walks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, as he arrived in Pyongyang in July 2000 for talks on halting North Korea's missile-development program. (Itar-tass / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Toasting the U.S.

    Kim Jong Il toasts U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a dinner in Pyongyang in October 2000. The visit was part of an coordinated effort by Washington and its allies South Korea and Japan to end the country's isolation. (Chien-min Chung / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A giant leader

    A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il displayed at an entrance of the foreign ministry in Pyongyang August 2002. (Shingo Ito / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Welcoming Japan

    Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, shakes hands with Kim Jong Il after signing a joint statement at the end of a one-day summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 17, 2002. North Korea admitted to kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s and using them to train spies. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Crowds in the square

    In January 2003, more than one million people gathered on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to hear political leaders hail North Korea's dramatic decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Tearful goodbyes

    Emotional South Koreans bid farewell to their North Korean families following a brief reunion in July 2004. The families were separated by the border that was imposed after fighting ended in 1953. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. X marks the spot

    A South Korean protester holds a picture of Kim Jong Il marked with a cross during a rally in Seoul on July 7, 2006. Demonstrators denounced Pyongyang's test-firing of seven missiles. (Lee Jin-man / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Wining and dining

    South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun joins Kim Jong Il at a farewell lunch in Pyongyang on Oct. 4, 2007, after the two sides signed a pledge to seek a peace treaty to replace the 54-year-old cease-fire that ended the Korean War. With no treaty in place, the two countries technically are still at war. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Military matters

    Kim Jong Il visits a military unit in this picture released by North Korea's official news agency on Aug. 11, 2008. It was Kim's last public appearance before intelligence officials suggested he had fallen gravely ill. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. In the public eye again

    In this image taken from North Korea's KRT state television, Kim Jong II attends the first session of the Supreme People's Assembly on April 9, 2009, in Pyongyang. It was his first major public appearance since reportedly suffering a stroke in August 2008. (APTN) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Paying his respects

    A gaunt-looking Kim Jong Il, sitting center in the front row, is surrounded by high-ranking officials during a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of his father's death on July 8, 2009. Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea, remains known as the country's"eternal president." (KCNA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Visit from Clinton

    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, meets with Kim Jong Il, left front, in Pyongyang on Aug. 4, 2009. North Korea pardoned and released two detained U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, after the meeting. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Calling on a cotton farm

    Kim Jong Il inspects a cotton plant farm of the Korean People's Army's 1596 unit on Nov. 29, 2009. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Meet-and-greet

    Kim Jong Il waves as people including soldiers applaud during a visit to the construction site of the Kumyagang Army-People Power Station in South Hamgyong Province in an undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency in August, 2010. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. China visit

    Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, meets with Kim Jong Il in Changchun, in northeast China's Jilin province, on Aug. 27, 2010. (Ju Peng / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Likely heir

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il, seated at center in sunglasses, and his youngest son Kim Jong Un, seated at left, pose for a photo with the newly elected members of the central leadership body of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the participants in the WPK Conference, at the plaza of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency on Sept. 30, 2010. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il anointed his youngest son as successor this week, promoting him to senior political and military positions. (KCNA via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (2nd L) and his youngest son Kim Jong Un (3rd R from Kim Jong-il) visit the cemetery for Chinese soldiers who died during the 1950-53 Korean War in Hoechang County, North Korea, Oct. 26, 2010, in this picture released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, right, and his son Kim Jong Un attend a massive military parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea on Oct. 10, 2010. Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Pass in review

    Kim Jong Il attends a military parade to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang on September 9, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A tearful announcer dressed in black announces the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong il on North Korean State Television on Dec. 19, 2011. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died on a train trip, state television reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. The announcer said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance". (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen inside a glass coffin as people pay their respects, Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 20, 2011. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. ARCHIVES : KIM IL SUNG AND KIM JONG IL
    Noboru Hashimoto / Corbis Sygma
    Above: Slideshow (36) The life of Kim Jong ll - Kim Jong Il through the years
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    Slideshow (42) The life of Kim Jong ll - World reacts
  3. Daryl Cagle / MSNBC.com, Politicalcartoons.com
    Slideshow (30) The life and death of Kim Jong Il
  4. Image:
    David Guttenfelder / AP
    Slideshow (53) Journey into North Korea

Video: UN observes moment of silence for Kim Jong Il

Interactive: Meet North Korea’s first family

The North Korean dictatorship established by Kim Il Sung after World War II was taken over by his son Kim Jong Il in the 1990s. Now, as Kim Jong Il’s health fails the power is apparently being formally handed to his eldest son Kim Jung Un. In addition, the Kim family holds dozens of powerful positions throughout the North Korean bureaucracy.

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