Skip to main content

Kim Jong Un named 'supreme commander' in North Korea

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:48 PM EST, Fri December 30, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Power reportedly transferred to him in October
  • The North says it won't engage with the South Korean government
  • The comments come after two days of ceremonies to honor Kim Jong Il
  • The late dictator's son Kim Jong Un is being portrayed as the new "supreme leader"

(CNN) -- Kim Jong Un has assumed "the supreme commandership" of the North Korean army, state media reported Saturday.

The power was transferred to him on October 8 at the behest of his father, Kim Jong Il, who died this month, said the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The announcement came a day after prospects for a shift in relations on the Korean peninsula were dashed when North Korea said a change in leadership would not mean a change in policy.

"We solemnly declare with confidence that the South Korean puppets and foolish politicians around the world should not expect any change" from North Korea, the country's National Defense Commission said in a statement reported by KCNA.

That statement came after two days of elaborate ceremonies in Pyongyang that honored Kim Jong Il and underlined the rise of his son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Un, to the position of "supreme leader" of the secretive state.

The nuclear-armed North "will have no dealings with the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors forever," the statement said in an English-language version of the KCNA report. Lee is the South Korean president.

South Korea's Unification Ministry expressed disappointment.

"The ministry finds today's statement regretful," it said. "However, the ministry's basic principle towards easing tensions in inter-Korean relations and resolving problems through dialogues remains still. The ministry hopes North Korea to regain stability in the near future and present constructive attitude."

The North criticized the South Korean government's decision to allow only a select group of private citizens to visit Pyongyang to pay their respects to Kim Jong Il, whose death was announced last week.

Lee's government's "show of enmity" toward North Korea "culminated in its act of blocking south Koreans who wanted to visit Pyongyang to mourn the demise of leader Kim Jong Il," the statement said.

Seoul allowed a group of South Koreans, including a former first lady and a leading businesswoman, to travel to the North earlier this week to express condolences over Kim Jong Il's death.

That move, along with a number of other gestures like expressing condolences to the North Korean people, suggested a slight softening in Lee's government's hardline stance toward Pyongyang.

The North, though, did not appear to be impressed by those efforts, expressing anger Friday that more South Koreans weren't permitted to visit Pyongyang and that groups were allowed this week to release leaflets near the border criticizing North Korean leaders.

It also said that the South's decision to put its military on alert after Kim Jong Il's death created "a war-like atmosphere on the ground and in the seas and air."

In one of the more vehement passages of saber-rattling rhetoric, the defense commission warned of revenge over these perceived misdeeds.

"The veritable sea of tears shed by the army and people" of North Korea "will turn into that of retaliatory fire to burn all the group of traitors to the last one and their wailing into a roar of revenge to smash the stronghold of the puppet forces," the statement said.

Amid concerns over change in North Korean leadership, a top U.S. diplomat plans to travel to the region early next year in the first such talks since Kim Jong Il's death, the State Department announced Thursday.

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will "discuss a range of important bilateral, regional and global issues" during his four days in China, South Korea and Japan.

The State Department statement specifically mentioned that the "latest developments related to North Korea" will be on the agenda.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Experts warn that under Kim Jong Un's rule, Pyongyang has shown an even greater willingness to raise the stakes than before.
updated 9:14 AM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
China and North Korea criticize a U.N. report that found crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. What happened after that?
updated 12:30 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Report: North Korea uses multiple techniques to defy sanctions, and shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear missile programs.
updated 3:17 AM EST, Fri February 21, 2014
Families torn apart for more than 60 years -- separated by the Korean War -- began to reunite at a mountain resort in North Korea Thursday.
updated 6:50 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state, the UN reported.
updated 11:31 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
Former prisoners in North Korea describe horrific stories of being tortured by authorities.
updated 10:27 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
Skiing is not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about the isolated nation, but North Korea's ski resort is world class.
updated 10:15 PM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
American Kenneth Bae, who is being held in North Korea, has been moved from a hospital to a labor camp.
updated 9:13 PM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
Why is he being held by North Korea in a prison camp? These are the questions for many since his arrest in the isolated country in 2012.
updated 3:18 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked.
updated 8:26 PM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
Dennis Rodman's "Big Bang in Pyongyang" may be in a league of its own, but other stars too have mixed with repressive regimes before.
updated 1:00 PM EST, Thu December 19, 2013
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea to train basketball players, state-run media reports.
updated 9:50 PM EST, Tue December 17, 2013
The nation held a memorial in the honor of former North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il on the second anniversary of his death.
updated 10:58 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Days after he was removed from his powerful military post, Jang Song Thaek was called a traitor and executed.
ADVERTISEMENT