In the News – N. Korean leader gets new political titles in key conference
SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has gained new political titles, Pyongyang’s state news agency reported Thursday, ahead of an imminent rocket launch that could tighten sanctions on the already isolated country.
Kim was named first secretary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and also elected as a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the party’s Central Committee, according to the (North) Korean Central News Agency.
Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s, also assumed the top post of the party’s Central Military Commission at a crucial party conference on Wednesday, the KCNA said in a dispatch.
The state media outlet praised Kim as a great statesman, an outstanding strategist and a kind-hearted leader with brilliant ideas and theories and matchless leadership ability.
Kim’s ascension to the top posts came just four months after his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il, died suddenly of a heart attack. The late Kim was named the “eternal” general secretary of the party during the party conference.
The party conference and a separate parliamentary session scheduled on Friday are widely seen by experts as the last steps to complete power transfer to the new leader.
In December, Kim became the supreme commander of the 1.2 million-strong military as he began to take over the communist country founded by his grandfather Kim Il-sung.
The North has been stepping up its propaganda campaign to boost the image and power of its new leader.
Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a message to Kim on Wednesday, congratulating him on his election as the party’s first secretary and vowing to further deepen the traditional friendship between the two neighbors, the KCNA said in a separate dispatch.
The latest development comes as North Korea has fueled its long-range rocket for an imminent liftoff.
The North has said the launch, set for sometime between Thursday and next Monday, is designed to put an earth observation satellite into orbit, a move widely seen as a pretext to disguise a banned test of its ballistic missile technology.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Washington will take appropriate action against North Korea’s rocket launch, noting consultations are under way with other nations in their capitals and at the United Nations.
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