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North Korea bestows new title on its young leader ahead of rocket launch

•, ByDonald Kirk
 North Korea’s youthful “supreme leader” got another formal title Wednesday to show he’s really in charge before the North test-fires a long-range missile in the face of strong warnings from the US.
Even as engineers were fueling the missile on its launch pad, North Korea’s Workers’ Party named him “first secretary” – a new position created in deference to the memory of his late father, Kim Jong-il, who had had the title of general secretary when he died last December.

Rather than give the same title to Kim Jong-un, still in his late 20s, Pyongyang’s Korea Central News Agency said Kim Jong-il would remain “eternal general secretary.” The title was logical, observers note, as the North prepares for a massive celebration on Sunday marking the centennial of the birth of “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, honored in posterity as “eternal president” after dying in 1994 and leaving power to Kim Jong-il.

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