PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea hailed Kim Jong Il's son as "supreme leader" of the 1.2 million strong military, ramping up its campaign to install the young man as the nation's next leader even as the mourning for his father continued a week after his death.
Kim Jong Un made a third visit Saturday to the palace where his father's body is lying in state — this time as "supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces" and accompanied by North Korea's top military brass, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
The new title and public show of support from the military leadership sent a strong signal that the nation will maintain Kim Jong Il's "military first" policy for the time being.
On Saturday, the newspaper Rodong Sinmun, mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, urged Kim Jong Un to accept the top military post: "Comrade Kim Jong Un, please assume the supreme commandership, as wished by the people."
Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s and was unveiled in September 2010 as his father's choice as successor, will be the third-generation Kim to rule the nation of 24 million. His father and grandfather led the country under different titles, and it remains unclear which other titles will be bestowed on the grandson.
Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea in 1948, retains the title of "eternal president" even after his death in 1994.
Son Kim Jong Il ruled as chairman of the National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army..