PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday called Kim Jong Il's son "supreme leader" of the military, ramping up its campaign to install the young man as the next leader of the communist nation even as millions continued mourning his father.
In a late night dispatch, the official Korean Central News Agency said Kim Jong Un, the "supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces" of the country, visited his father's bier with top military leaders and officials "and expressed profound condolences." It was a strong signal that the country will continue its policy of "songun," or military first.
North Korea earlier Saturday called Kim Jong Un "supreme commander" and continued emphasizing his bloodline and legacy in carrying out the Kim family's claim to lead and protect the North Korean people.
Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s and was unveiled last year as his father's choice as successor, will be the third generation Kim to rule the country since its inception in 1948.
The call to rally behind Kim Jong Un, dubbed the "Great Successor" on Monday, the day his father's death from a heart attack two days earlier was announced, comes amid a dramatic show of grief across North Korea. The country is to remain in an official state of mourning until after Kim's funeral Wednesday and a memorial Thursday.
Footage from Associated Press Television News in the capital, Pyongyang, showed a throng of North Koreans climbing stairs and placing flowers and wreaths neatly in a row below a portrait of Kim Jong Il as solemn music filled the air and young uniformed soldiers, their heads shaved, bowed to the portrait with their eyes closed.