After the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il, his youngest son-of-three is named as the "Great Successor"
Confirmation of events and situations from North Korea – aptly named the Hermit Kingdom – is near impossible due to the secretive nature of the state.
However, Euromoney Skew has put together some information from sources on the little-known Kim Jong-un, who takes over from his deceased father Kim Jong-il and is dubbed the "Great Successor" (according to "clear indications on North Korean state television").
Firstly, Jong-un is the youngest of Kim Jong-il's three sons (the other two are his full-brother Kim Jong-chol and half-brother Kim Jong-nam) but even his exact birth date cannot be confirmed. Reports range from 1983 to 1984.
Little is known about the elusive Kim Jong-un but after Kim Jong-il's reported stroke in 2008, Kim Jong-un was seen as being groomed to become heir to the empire after a succession of high-level appointments, including at North Korea's National Defence Commission, which is the country's most important governmental institution.
Subsequently, there have been other indicators pointing to Kim Jong-un being the successor.
According to BBC reports:
" ... on June 2, 2009, South Korea's intelligence agency reportedly briefed legislators that North Korean officials had been ordered to support the choice of Kim Jong-un as the next leader."
South Korean TV also said in August 2010 that when Kim Jong-il visited China, Kim Jong-un also accompanied his father.
However, little else is known about the "Great Successor".
The body of North Korea's long-time ruler Kim Jong Il was laid out in a memorial palace on Tuesday, as weeping mourners filled public plazas and state media fed a budding personality cult around his third son, hailing him as "born of heaven".
Indicating the leadership transition in the world's only communist dynasty is on track, Kim Jong-un – Kim's youngest known son and successor – visited the body with top military and Workers' Party officials and held what state media called a "solemn ceremony" in the capital, Pyongyang, as the country mourned.
According to the report, Allan Dwyer, professor of finance at Mount Royal University and a participant in ECR’s poll, says:
“The suddenness of Kim’s unscheduled passing may prove to be enough of a shock that elements in favour of either increased openness, or those with a stake in criminal enterprise, may gain the upper hand. Either way, a watershed event has unfolded.”
Only time will tell what the rest of the world will learn about Kim Jong-un, but already, according to the FT, South Korea is on tenterhooks and is minimising any antagonisation of the new leader (emphasis ours):
South Korea may scrap plans to illuminate large Christmas tree-shaped towers on the North Korean border, in a sign it wants to avoid provoking Pyongyang’s inexperienced new leader into proving himself through an early military standoff.
Kim Jong-un has yet to show his mettle as North Korea’s leader after his father, Kim Jong-il, died over the weekend.
A dispute over Christmas trees along the world’s most militarised border would be the first test of his resolve.
Analysts fear he could seek to compensate for his youth with a bold strike in line with his state’s “military first” ideology.