News / Asia

North Korea Ushers In Kim Jong Un Era

New North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un (front) pays his respects to his father and former leader Kim Jong Il, lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, December 20, 2011.
New North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un (front) pays his respects to his father and former leader Kim Jong Il, lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, December 20, 2011.

North Korea proclaimed the beginning of the Kim Jong Un era Thursday, describing the son of deceased leader Kim Jong Il as the "successor" of the nation's revolutionary undertakings "and leader of its people."

An editorial in North Korea's official newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Kim Jong Un should move forward on a path of self-reliance, while continuing the teachings of Kim Jong Il, whose death was announced this week. The paper urged the nation to rally behind the young leader and faithfully uphold his leadership.

Watch a related report by Suzanne Presto

Kim Jong Il's death after 17 years in power has sparked regional and Western concerns about the future of a country with a large army, a history of deep animosity toward its southern neighbor and broad nuclear ambitions.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told political leaders Thursday the ongoing transition in North Korea holds potential for increased flexibility in Seoul's relations with Pyongyang.

Lee spoke as South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator arrived in Beijing for what South Korean media described as an emergency meeting focusing on regional stability. Ahead of the meeting, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said the envoys would discuss how to proceed on the North Korean nuclear issue.

"They [South Korean nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam and Chinese nuclear envoy Wu Dawei] are planning to hold the South Korea-China chief delegates' meeting discussing the six-party talks," said Cho. "In the discussion they are going to share their views on the situation of the Korean peninsula after North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Il's death. They will also discuss future measures about the North Korean nuclear issue."

Six-party nuclear negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the North's nuclear program involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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