North Korea’s leader-in-waiting, the youngest son of ailing ruler Kim Jong-il, took center stage during a big military parade yesterday, making his first national appearance in the secretive state.

Kim Jong-un stood near his father on the dais, clapping and saluting thousands of goose-stepping soldiers, while reviewing missiles, tanks and artillery rockets.

The young Kim’s prominent role at the parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square marked his military debut and showed his standing in one of the world’s largest armies.

Until his appointment as a general last month — along with his naming to a key political post — little was known about the young Kim other than that he was educated in Switzerland.

“The future of our country is rosy and bright because Kim Jong-un was elected vice chairman of the military commission of the Workers’ Party,” said a government official, who asked not to be identified.

“We have a proverb in Korean that great teachers produce great students and great parents produce great children.”