Seoul, Feb 25: North Korea, the world's only communist dynasty, could introduce a ''collective'' military-based leadership once the current leader Kim Jong-il leaves office, South Korea's Yonhap News reported today.
Kim had tipped his eldest son Jong-nam as heir-apparent but changed his mind a few years ago, unnamed diplomatic sources in Beijing said, according to Yonhap. ''Kim is now preparing to introduce a leadership by a group.'' Although Kim, who just turned 65, had yet to announce the change officially, he had set up a committee to test the new system, Yonhap said.
If realised, the move marks a departure from a long-anticipated father-to-son power transfer. Kim Jong-il himself was designated by his father and North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung as the successor, decades before he assumed the role.
Jong-nam reportedly fell out of favour after he was deported from Japan in 2001 on suspicion of trying to enter the country using a forged Dominican Republic passport.
Kim's two other known sons are Jong-chol, believed to be 25, and Jong-un, thought to be 23.
A South Korean intelligence report released in December said if Kim Jong-il dies without a clear successor, one of the country's senior generals would eventually take over.