Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 12:24 UK

Kim's son 'joins N Korea panel'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2005
Kim Jong-il has no clear successor, sparking fears of a power struggle

The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has reportedly been given a job in a top government agency - a sign he may be Mr Kim's chosen successor.

Kim Jong-un, who is in his late 20s, was recently given a job at the National Defence Commission, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Kim Jong-il, who suffered a suspected stroke in August, currently has no named successor.

His poor health has led to concerns of a power struggle if he dies suddenly.

Family ties

The news of Kim Jong-un's appointment cannot be independently verified, as is often the case in secretive North Korea.

But it seems likely that Mr Kim is increasingly focusing on trying to secure a smooth transition of power.

He recently appointed his brother-in-law, Jang Seong-tak, to a senior position on the National Defence Commission - another indication, according to analysts, that he is keen to ensure power remains in the family.

The defence commission is North Korea's most important government body, and Mr Kim rules the country in his capacity as the commission's chairman.

Little is known about Kim Jong-un except that he was probably born in 1983 or 1984, studied in Switzerland and is said to look and act like his father.

Mr Kim's eldest son, 37-year-old Kim Jong-nam, was once the favourite to take over, but appears to have fallen out of favour after being caught using a fake passport to get into Tokyo's Disneyland in 2001.

Kim Jong-nam also told reporters in Beijing in January that he had "no interest" in succeeding his father.

Other figures named as possible successors include the second son, Kim Jong-chol, as well as senior figures from the country's powerful military and its ruling communist party.

Kim Jong-il has ruled North Korea with absolute authority since his father, Kim Il-sung, died in 1994.

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