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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N. Korea leader names 3rd son as successor - S. Korean media

RIA Novosti

15/01/2009 14:18 SEOUL, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has tapped his third son to be his successor and sent his nomination to the leadership of the ruling party, a South Korean news agency reported on Thursday.

The reportedly ailing Kim Jong-il "delivered a directive around January 8 that he has named [Kim] Jong-un as his successor to the leadership of the Workers' Party," Yonhap quoted a well-informed source as saying on condition of anonymity.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence have reported that Kim, 67, suffered a stroke last summer and underwent surgery, raising speculation as to who would take over the isolated communist state, the subject of international concern over its nuclear program.

Kim Jong-un, now 25, was born to Kim Jong-il's third wife, Ko Yong-hi, who died of breast cancer at the age of 51 in 2004. According to Yonhap, the youngest of Kim's three sons, Jong-un was educated at the International School of Berne and is a fan of NBA basketball.

Yonhap said Jong-un's nomination was completely unexpected in North Korea, even among the Worker's Party leadership, and was most likely driven by Kim Jong-il's rapidly deteriorating health.

Pyongyang has vehemently denied reports of Kim's illness.

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