News / Asia

North Korea Marks Founding Day Amid Talk of Succession

North Korea is celebrating the anniversary of its founding as speculation grows that Kim Jong Il's youngest son will be named heir apparent.

The official Korean Central News Agency says government officials, soldiers and members of the official Workers' Party gathered at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where the embalmed body of Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea in 1948, lies in state.  Kim Jong Il became leader after his father died in 1994.  

Reports have surfaced that delegates to the Workers' Party are traveling to Pyongyang for a major conference to be held this month.  It is believed Kim Jong Il will use the meeting to anoint his third and youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor.  

A group of defectors based in South Korea say the meeting has been delayed because of recent flooding in the North.  But Open Radio for North Korea, a Seoul-based station specializing in North Korean affairs, says the delay is due to Kim Jong Il's health.

The 68-year-old leader is believed to have suffered a stroke 2008.

Kim Jong Il made a rare trip to China last month in what analysts say was an effort to win support for his son's eventual ascension.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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