North Korean state media released a photograph on Thursday of Kim Jong-un, the son and presumed heir of the ailing dictator, Kim Jong-il, the first verified image of the young man as an adult.
The photo was published in the Thursday issue of North Korea’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, and showed him in a dark suit with his father and a large group of senior Workers’ Party officials. He bears a strong resemblance to his father and, some thought, his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder.
This week, at a landmark meeting of the Workers’ Party in the capital, Pyongyang, the younger Kim, who is believed to be 27 or 28, was given the rank of four-star general n the People’s Army and was named a deputy chairman of the party’s military commission. He also became a member of the party’s Central Committee, an ideological and policy-making post.
Chubby and looking somewhat older than his years, Kim Jong-un was seated two spots to his father’s right and next to another rising star, Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, seated between them.
Ri, 67, whose military rank as vice marshal places him over Kim Jong-un, was named to the country’s powerful Politburo this week and also was made a deputy chairman of the party’s military commission. The vice marshal, who has served as chief of the army general staff, is seen as a seasoned officer with substantial field experience. South Korean news media reports have suggested that he guided Kim Jong-un in his fast-track military training over the last year.