North Korea’s enigmatic and ailing dictator, Kim Jong Il, is thought to have made a surprise selection of the man who will succeed him as leader of the nuclear-armed, Stalinist autocracy when he is gone.
Intelligence sources in Seoul today suggested that – very much against the expectations of South Korean analysis – Mr Kim, 66, has chosen this youngest and favourite son, Jong Un, to take over the all-pervasive family personality cult that controls the country.
The potential heir, who is thought to be no more than 24 years old, was educated in Switzerland and is the offspring of Kim’s third marriage and supposedly favourite wife – a woman who died five years ago.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
In the regular and heated speculation among North Korea watchers over the shape of a world without Mr Kim, Jong Un has been routinely dismissed as a likely successor because of his youth.