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North Korea dubs Kim Jong Un 'supreme commander'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:34 PM EST, Sat December 24, 2011
Kim Jong Un is expected by many experts to assume leadership of North Korea.
Kim Jong Un is expected by many experts to assume leadership of North Korea.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An editorial calls for the son of the late Kim Jong Il to lead the country "to eternal victory"
  • The title could point to son's "imminent rise" as head of the military
  • Kim Jong Il died one week ago; the country is in a transition period

(CNN) -- North Korea continued to mourn its late leader Saturday while calling his successor son the "supreme commander," as the country faces a transition of power following Kim Jong Il's death one week ago.

"Comrade Kim Jong Un, please assume the supreme commandership, as wished by the people, to lead (North Korea) to eternal victory," the country's main state newspaper said in an editorial, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency speculated that the new title could be "a sign of the successor's imminent rise to control the communist country's military."

Yonhap reported earlier this week that the younger Kim gave his first military orders as leader of North Korea just before the death of his father was announced Monday.

CNN.com: Korea demilitarized zone

The man known as the "dear leader" died December 17 of a heart attack at age 69. The ruling Worker's Party declared Kim Jong Un, the youngest of three sons, the "great successor" to his father's mantle.

Contrasting lives of two world leaders

Analysts have speculated that Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his late 20s, lacks the experience needed to succeed his father, who ruled the reclusive Stalinist state since 1994.

Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California's U.S.-China Institute, said the challenge for North Korea is to speed up the country's familiarity with the younger Kim: "The son is a blank slate. They face the challenge of building up his image and reputation faster than they might have done."

Saturday's editorial was full of praise for both son and father.

"This call is an expression of our people's faith to follow respected Kim Jong Un, who is identical to Kim Jong Il, to the last of their life," KCNA reported.

Kim's funeral will be held Wednesday; the official mourning period will end Thursday.

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