21 Sep 2010

New leader speculation in Nth Korea

1:52 pm on 21 September 2010

State media in North Korea say the ruling party will hold its first conference in a generation on 28 September, amid speculation that leader Kim Jong-il is about to name his successor.

The Workers Party is widely expected to promote Mr Kim's third son, Kim Jong-un, to a senior position.

Observers believe a promotion would anoint him as the heir to his father, the self-styled 'Dear Leader'.

Kim, 68, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008.

The Korean Central News Agency issued a short statement on Tuesday announcing the party meeting.

The BBC reports the announcement ends weeks of speculation about the date of the meeting, which is believed to have been delayed several times.

Kim Jong-il was promoted at a previous conference in 1980, which at the time was seen as confirmation that he would succeed his father, Kim Il-sung.

He eventually became leader after his father's death in 1994.

Little is known of Swiss-educated Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be aged 26 or 27. He has never been photographed by Western media.