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Official: Kim Jong Un to be next N. Korea leader

A top North Korean official confirmed Friday to broadcaster APTN that Kim Jong Il's youngest son will succeed him as the next leader of the reclusive communist nation.
Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il with his son Kim Jong Un and soldiers.
HANDOUT RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE AND EDITORIAL SALES - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on October 6, 2010 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (R) together with his son Kim Jong-Un (2nd L-black suit) and soldiers after he inspected a coordinated drill of servicepersons of the Korea People's Army Unit 851 held to mark the 65th birthday of the Workers Party of Korea. North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong-Il and his son and heir apparent watched a live-fire military drill together with top party and military officials, state media said on October 6. It was the first official field inspection by Kim's son since he was made a four-star general and given key party posts last week, in a rapid rise to public prominence. AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)Kns / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

A top North Korean official confirmed Friday to broadcaster APTN that Kim Jong Il's youngest son will succeed him as the next leader of the reclusive communist nation.

In the first public confirmation of the succession plan, Yang Hyong Sop, a top official in North Korea's ruling party, referred to Kim Jong Un as "the young general" during an exclusive interview with APTN. Yang said the nation's people were honored to serve him as their leader.

He would be the third successive generation of his family to lead of the nation of 24 million. His grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded the nation in 1948 on policy of self-reliance called "juche" and built a cult of personality around him and his son, Kim Jong Il.

"Our people take pride in the fact that they are blessed with great leaders from generation to generation," Yang said.

"Our people are honored to serve the great President Kim Il Sung and the great leader Kim Jong Il," he added. "Now we also have the honor of serving young Gen. Kim Jong Un."

Yang is a member of the political bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, which is the country's parliament.

Kim Jong Un had been virtually unknown outside North Korea before he made his public debut last week, when he was promoted to four-star general and vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's central military commission. That backed up analyst speculation that he had been chosen to succeed his ailing father as eventual ruler of the impoverished authoritarian regime, which pursues active nuclear and missile programs.

The world got its first real glimpse of Kim Jong Un last week when his photo was published in state media and he was shown on television at a Workers' Party convention, the country's most significant political gathering in 30 years. Yang's comments are the first public confirmation that Kim Jong Un will eventually take over as leader.

Kim Jong Il took over as leader after his father died in 1994 in what was the communist world's first hereditary transfer of power.