Seoul, Feb 16 (Yonhap) North Korea''s leader-in-waiting,Kim Jong-un, began accompanying his father, Kim Jong-il, onmilitary inspections as early as January last year, accordingto footage released by the country''s official televisionnetwork.
Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il''s third son who is believed tobe no older than 29, was unveiled to the world in Septemberlast year ahead of a major political gathering in Pyongyang.
But a 30-minute-long compilation of videos releasedyeaterday showing Kim Jong-il''s military inspections last year-- seen by Yonhap News Agency on the 69-year-old leader''sbirthday -- showed that Kim Jong-un joined his father on avisit to a tank unit on January 5.
Kim Jong-un appeared in two other military inspectionsin January. In one of them, he was seen viewing a militarydrill through a pair of binoculars. He was not wearing amilitary uniform.
Outside officials believe Kim Jong-il began grooming hisyoungest son as heir following his stroke in the summer of2008. Kim Jong-un''s two older brothers apparently fell out offavor for reasons outsiders only speculate about.
During the Workers'' Party convention in September, KimJong-un became one of the two vice chairmen of the CentralMilitary Commission. He has not been seen publicly giving aspeech yet.
On Tuesday, the North''s official news agency reportedthat China essentially endorsed the 20-something man asPyongyang''s next head, quoting a visiting top Chinese officialas "hailing the successful solution of the issue of successionto the Korean revolution."
A massive cult of personality surrounds the Kim family.
Kim Jong-il inherited the country in 1994 after his father andNorth Korea founder, Kim Il-sung, died.
No modern country has ever successfully carried out aback-to-back hereditary power succession. (Yonhap)