Korea works on new leader's personality cult

Last updated 00:10 21/01/2012

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North Korea is crediting new leader Kim Jong Un with spearheading past nuclear testing, as it adds to a growing personality cult around the young son of its late leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim Jong Un's youth and quick rise have spurred questions in foreign capitals about how ready he is to rule, and North Korea has in recent days said that Kim Jong Un worked closely with his father on military and economic matters.

The North's official Uriminzokkiri website said Friday that Kim "frightened" the country's enemies by commanding nuclear testing in the past. North Korea tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, but the website didn't specify which tests Kim oversaw.

Uriminzokkiri described Kim Jong Un as "fully equipped" with the qualities of an extraordinary general, even during his years at Kim Il Sung Military University. The website also repeated the North's claim that he was involved in satellite launching but didn't elaborate.

Kim Jong Un took over after his father and longtime ruler Kim Jong Il died in mid-December and has quickly been given many of the country's most important titles.

Kim Jong Un was introduced as heir only in September 2010. Before that he had been kept out of the public eye for most of his life. He was quickly promoted to four-star general and named a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea.

North Korea's neighbors and Washington have expressed worry about whether he can lead a nation of 24 million with a nuclear program as well as chronic trouble feeding all its people.

North Korea has dismissed concerns about Kim Jong Un's readiness to lead. A senior official told The Associated Press recently that Kim spent years working closely with his late father and helped him make key policy decisions on economic and military affairs.

Kim Jong Il spent 20 years working under his own father, Kim Il Sung. Even after his father's death, Kim Jong Il observed a three-year mourning period before formally assuming leadership.

North Korea also reported Friday that Kim Jong Un inspected two more military units.

Earlier this month, North Korea's state-run broadcaster aired a documentary that showed him observing the April 2009 launch of a long-range rocket. It was the first indication of his involvement in the launch.

The documentary quoted Kim as threatening to wage war against any nation attempting to intercept the rocket, which North Korea claimed was carrying a communications satellite but the United States, South Korea and Japan say was really a test of long-range missile technology.

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- AP

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