International

Kim Jong Un Declared To Be 'Supreme Leader' Of North Korea

A television frame grab taken from North Korean TV today (Dec. 29, 2011) shows Kim Jong Un during a memorial service for his father, Kim Jong Il. i i

hide captionA television frame grab taken from North Korean TV today (Dec. 29, 2011) shows Kim Jong Un during a memorial service for his father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korean TV/AFP/Getty Images
A television frame grab taken from North Korean TV today (Dec. 29, 2011) shows Kim Jong Un during a memorial service for his father, Kim Jong Il.

A television frame grab taken from North Korean TV today (Dec. 29, 2011) shows Kim Jong Un during a memorial service for his father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korean TV/AFP/Getty Images

There was seemingly no doubt it would happen, but nevertheless it was a moment to note today in Pyongyang, North Korea, when the young heir to the familial dynasty that has led the nation since 1948 was proclaimed to be the new "supreme leader."

The declaration came during another public memorial for Kim Jong Il, who died Dec. 17.

Before a large crowd in the capital city's Kim Il Sung Square (named for Kim Jong Il's father, the "Great Leader"), Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, said that "respected Comrade Kim Jong Un is our party, military and country's supreme leader who inherits great comrade Kim Jong Il's ideology, leadership, character, virtues, grit and courage."

And with that, Kim Jong Un — now in his late 20s — was very publicly recognized as his nation's new leader.

As South Korea's Yonhap News says, "the memorial service is an official proclamation that Kim Jong Un will lead the communist country through the political and diplomatic challenges of the crucial transition period."

According to the BBC, "state TV showed Kim Jong-un surrounded by top government and army officials. The memorial event appeared to be the Kim dynasty's unofficial handover of power, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson in neighbouring South Korea." It also notes that during memorial ceremonies on Wednesday:

"Kim Jong Un — who is thought to be in his late 20s and who has little political experience - was accompanied by his uncle, Chang Song-taek. Mr. Chang is expected to be a key player as the younger Kim consolidates power."

NPR's Mike Shuster, reporting from Seoul

Meanwhile, as The New York Times' Lens blog reports, there's evidence that North Korean state media have digitally tinkered with at least one of the photos they've been distributing of scenes in Pyongyang this week. So far, at least, the only distortion known to have happened was the removal of some men from one long-range shot of Wednesday's funeral procession. Our friends at The Picture Show blog plan to have more on the photo doctoring later today.

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