SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean children are already singing the praises of the young man in line to become the reclusive nation's next leader, analysts say, but the rest of the world doesn't even know the age, or, until recently, how to spell the name of Kim Jong Il's youngest son.
Kim Jong Un is expected to make his public debut as the Dear Leader's heir apparent at an upcoming convention of the Workers' Party, North Korea's biggest political gathering in 30 years. If so, it could be the first time the world — and many North Koreans — get a peek at the communist crown prince hidden so long from public view.
Jong Un is said to look like his father, in face and figure, but there's no verifiable photo of him as an adult. The most widely circulated image of him was taken as a boy, a cherubic imp with bright eyes and a cheeky grin.
The man reportedly tapped to take over leadership of the nuclear-armed nation of 24 million is believed to be 27, but the exact year of his birth remains in dispute. Until last year, the South Korean government didn't even know how to spell his name because it's so rarely seen in print and has never been published in North Korean media.