Expectations are high that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will use an upcoming meeting of party elites to introduce his heir apparent, initiating the Stalinist dictatorship's second hereditary power transfer.
Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong un, is widely expected to be given at least one high-level leadership position - the first step to claiming absolute power on a par with his father's. Experts differ on whether the younger Kim's rise will be publicly heralded.
Park Hyeong-jung, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification adds, "The appointment of the officials can give us an idea about how North Korea will run the nation."
During Kim Jong Il’s trip to China last week, among the Korean officials who accompanied Kim was Song Taek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, who is expected to act as a regent for the power transfer.
In recent days, North Korea has escalated its rhetoric about the "rising generation," though Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency has not mentioned Kim Jong un by name.
According to a transcript of Kim's speech in China, published by the KCNA, he said that given the "complicated" international situation, "it is our important historical mission to hand over to the rising generation the baton of the traditional friendship."
A subsequent 2,860-word account of the trip, also published by the KCNA, made three references to China-North Korea relations as one "generation is replaced by another."
[The Washington Post]