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Mr. Jang, 65, is a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. Under the constitution, the commission is the country’s highest military body.

Also escorting the hearse was Armed Forces Minister Kim Yong-chun, 75, who controls military logistics and training.

Another senior figure at the funeral was Kim Ki-nam, 82, who is credited with orchestrating the legends surrounding the Kim family. He also serves as the main ideologue for the country, according to the World Institute for North Korea Studies in South Korea.

Rounding out the funeral procession were: Kim Jong-gak, a senior political officer in the Korean People’s Army; U Tong-chuk, a top state security official; and Choe Thae-bok, the 81-year-old longtime chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Other important advisers include Premier Choe Yong-rim, who despite being in his 80s has been making the types of inspection trips to factories, construction sites and power plants that were once Kim Jong-Il’s purview; and Kim Yong-Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the country’s nominal head of state.

Two other top officers - Kim Myong-guk, a 71-year-old General Staff director of operations; and Kim Won-Hong, a top political officer reportedly in charge of military personnel appointments - have accompanied the young leader on military inspections recently.

The elderly leaders who lived through the Korean War are being replaced by a new generation of senior leaders in their 40s, 50s and 60s and numbering perhaps 5,000, according to a recent report by Peter Hayes, Scott Bruce and David von Hippel of the Nautilus Institute think tank.

The analysts said Kim Jong-un and his “senior advisers are likely to seek continuity with the past as the basis for smooth sailing in 2012 while they concentrate on domestic issues.”