WORLD> Asia-Pacific
Kim chooses third son as successor: Reports
Updated: 2009-01-16 07:37

SEOUL: Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) top leader Kim Jong-il has picked his third and youngest son to succeed him, a Republic of Korea (ROK) news agency said yesterday.

Speculation over Kim's successor has been a favorite topic in the ROK.

"We believe Chairman Kim Jong-il picked son (Kim) Jong-un ... and instructed the Workers' Party Organization and Guidance Department around Jan 8," Yonhap news agency quoted an intelligence source as having said.

Senior DPRK officials have been instructed to pass the message down the ranks, it added.

The ROK's intelligence agency, however, said that despite reports on Kim's successor, nothing has been confirmed.

The Switzerland-educated Jong-un is believed to have been born in late 1983 or early 1984, and has been described as an intelligent and thoughtful man.

But his youth has often been cited as a barrier to his rise to power in a society where the tradition of seniority is strong.

Japan's Yomiuri newspaper, however, has said that Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, 38, is expected to serve as the head of state, citing unnamed US intelligence sources.

Former ROK president Kim Dae-jung, who held the first summit with the DPRK leader in 2000, said yesterday that one of the three sons was likely to be installed as a symbolic leader, with a Cabinet of officials from the military and the Workers' Party forming a collective leadership.