Kim Names 3rd Son as Next 'Dear Leader'
25-year-old set to rule North Korea when father steps down
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2009 3:48 AM CDT
South Korean protesters and North Korean defectors shout slogans during a rally against North Korea's nuclear test and missiles in Seoul.   (AP Photo/Yonhap, Kim Ju-sung)
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(Newser) – Kim Jong-il has designated his youngest son Jong-un as his successor to lead North Korea, according to reports in the South Korean media. It's the latest sign of dramatic transformation in the isolated nation that launched a highly controversial nuclear test last week. It remains unclear whether Jong-un, 25, will hold real power or serve as a figurehead, reports the Times of London.

Speculation about the future of North Korea has been intense since Kim reportedly suffered a stroke last summer and disappeared from view for three months. Jong-un was educated at a Swiss boarding school and is said to have driven a specially converted Mercedes around the family compound as a boy. It may be years before Jong-un takes the top spot; his father had a similar path to power.