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Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said no official photos of Kim Jong-un have been published before.

The official Korean Central News Agency announced Tuesday that Kim Jong-un had been promoted to a four-star general in the Korean People’s Army — the first mention of his name in the country’s tightly controlled state media. State media have yet to offer any description or biographical information about Kim Jong-un, or even to refer to him as the leader’s son. The younger Mr. Kim has two older brothers, Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-chol, who appear to have lost out in the succession scenario.

Kim Jong-un was also mentioned in several dispatches Wednesday announcing the names of people who were given posts at the rare meeting of the party held the day before. In addition to his military title, he was made a member of the organization’s governing central committee and was also named to its military commission.

Several purported photos of the younger Mr. Kim have circulated for some time, mostly obtained and published by Japanese media. Kim Jong-il’s former Japanese chef said Kim Jong-un resembles his father in looks, tastes and personality, going so far as to call him a “spitting image.”

Kim Jong-il took over as North Korea’s leader in 1994 when his father died of heart failure in what became the first hereditary succession in the communist world. Questions regarding his health have spurred worries about possible political instability in the country — which has active nuclear and missile programs — should he die without a clear successor.

Kim Jong-il, who visited key ally China in August, was reportedly accompanied on the trip by Kim Jong-un, though that has not been confirmed. The trip spurred speculation the elder Mr. Kim may have been introducing his son to Chinese officials to win their understanding on the succession.

Associated Press writers Kwang-tae Kim and Sangwon Yoon contributed to this report.