28 Sep 2010

North Korean leader's son appointed a general

6:16 pm on 28 September 2010

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has appointed his youngest son a general, the country's state media has said.

The announcement is the first mention in the secretive state's official media of ailing 68-year-old's third son, Kim Jong-un, and is rumoured as being the first stage in naming a successor.

Kim Jong-il is believed to have had a stroke two years ago, and has travelled to China for treatment on numerous occasions.

The move came country's ruling Workers Party begins its biggest meeting in decades, with a stated aim of installing a new leadership team.

Kim Jong-il's rise to power began at the last party conference in 1980, when he was named to several important positions. He eventually became leader when his father North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, died in 1994.

Images released by North Korean state media on Monday showed orderly lines of delegates - some wearing suits, others in military uniform - arriving in Pyongyang.