North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has decided to pass the mantle of leadership to his second son, Kim Jong-Chol, according to AERA magazine, a publication of Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
AERA quoted an informed official as saying Kim Jong-Il has made up his mind to transfer his power to his 24-year-old son.....According to AERA, Kim, who was born on Sept. 25, 1981, studied at an international school in Switzerland. He is such an enthusiastic fan of the U.S. basketball that his doting father built basketball courts at his villas throughout North Korea.
....Seoul's intelligence sources also indicated North Korea may announce Kim's successor in the near future. In an apparent bid by Kim to reinforce the country's dynastic rule, he has purged Jang Song-Taek, his brother-in-law and closest aide, according to the sources. Jang had long been believed to be a strong candidate to succeed Kim.
But the Pyongyang regime has recently described Jang as a "tree" that is now cut off, a strong indication that he was officially removed from the power.
Kim Jong-Chol was also competing with his elder half-brother, Kim Jong-Nam, to lead the country. But Jong-Nam has been considered out of contention after Japanese authorities caught him attempting to enter Japan illegally in May 2001, an act that caused Pyongyang severe diplomatic embarrassment. Jong-Nam is the son of Kim Jong-Il's second wife, Song Hae-Rim, who died in a Moscow hospital in 2002.