North Korea's heir apparent Kim Jong-un appears with father Kim Jong-il at military parade

Despite backing of key Workers' Party officials, Kim Jong-un seems to be unpopular among North Korean citizens.

Kyodo News/AP
North Korea leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday. This year's celebration comes less than two weeks after Kim Jong Il's re-election to the party's top post and the news that his 20-something son would succeed his father as leader.

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Kim Jong-un, the recently named heir apparent to the leadership of North Korea, appeared with his father, Kim Jong-il, at a massive military parade in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday.

BBC News reports that Kim Jong-un's appearance with his father at the parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, occurred the day after a similar appearance at the Arirang Games in Pyongyang. The BBC's Michael Bristow says that the events marked the first time that both Kims appeared publicly before the world's media, which was allowed to cover both the games and the parade in a break from North Korea's usual secrecy. BBC News offers video of the parade on its website.

The public appearances of the Kims and the rare access granted to foreign media underscore Friday's confirmation of Kim Jong-un as the future leader of North Korea. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Yang Hyong-sop, a member of the political bureau of the Workers’ Party, gave the first formal confirmation of Kim Jong Un's succession, telling Associated Press Television that "Our people are honored to be led by the great president Kim Il-sung and the great general Kim Jong-il. Now we also have the honor of being led by General Kim Jong-un."

STORY: North Korea's new dawn with Kim Jong-un

The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean daily, reports that Kim Jong-un's succession became possible due to the support of three key North Korean officials, all of whom are the sons of Korean guerrillas who resisted the Japanese occupation along with North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, during World War II. The Chosun Ilbo writes that the trio - General Choe Ryong Hae, General Oh Kum Chol, and Military Director-General Oh Il Jong - "spearheaded" the campaign to anoint Kim Jong Un as the country's future leader, and that some North Koreans believe that they may be the power behind Kim Jong-un's future throne.

But while Kim Jong-un has support among North Korea's elite, the Chosun Ilbo notes in another article that he appears to be unpopular among the citizenry. The paper writes that while Kim Il-sung is still highly regarded by North Koreans, they only fear Kim Jong-il, and dismiss Kim Jong-un as a nobody.

One defector told the newspaper that "The regime says Kim Jong-un has inherited the 'revolutionary achievements' and traditions from his grandfather, but the public has no illusions about him. People are simply speechless at Kim Jong-il's greed in placing his young son on the throne." Another called Kim Jong-un "a scoundrel who relies on his father's power to do whatever he wants. The distrust North Koreans feel toward Kim Jong-il will turn into animosity toward Kim Jong-un, who is said to be just like his father."

Radio Free Asia reports that there are also doubts among the North Korean military's rank and file about the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who was recently named a four-star general in the North Korean army. One source noted that when Kim Jong-il was appointed leader of the North Korean Army by his father in 1991, "Given his strengths and achievements, [military officers] thought it was obvious that he would be supreme commander. But what has Kim Jong-un done to become a general?”

The Daily NK writes that North Korea has seen recent instances of anti-Kim graffiti and pamphletting following the announcement of Kim Jong-un's succession.

STORY: North Korea's new dawn with Kim Jong-un

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