North Korea’s ruling party will hold its biggest meeting in decades on Sept. 28 to pick a new leadership, state media reported yesterday — and will likely anoint an heir to the dynasty as Kim Jong Il’s health deteriorates.
Kim, who is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, has reportedly accelerated succession plans, and analysts say that his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, is likely to be given an official title at the Workers’ Party conference.
The North’s KCNA news agency said the conference would be held in Pyongyang “for electing its supreme leadership body,” but provided no further details of the agenda.
Next week’s meeting will be the biggest gathering of the reclusive state’s political elite since 1980, when Kim himself began his official role to succeed his father and state founder by taking on a Workers’ Party title at the age of 38.
The 68-year-old leader is not expected to go into retirement just yet, despite his declining health, experts say, as his 20-something son, Kim Jong Un, is considered too young and inexperienced.
Analysts say that the younger Kim will likely be given a party post, even though it might be a minor role — but any appointment would signal the start of the succession process.
If Kim Jong Il dies suddenly, analysts say his brother-in-law Jang Song Taek will act as regent until Jong Un is fully ready to take over.