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Kim Jong-il ruled as chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position that under the constitution gave him authority as “supreme leader” of North Korea.

It remains to be seen which title will give Kim Jong-un authority as supreme leader under the constitution.


Kim Jong-il’s “military first” policy may serve as North Korea’s main ideology for now under Kim Jong-un, but a new ideology will likely emerge, intended to prove to the people that he can raise their standard of living.

Analysts said the goal is to link Kim Jong-un more closely to the early, nation-building years of Kim Il-sung’s rule rather than the economic hardship and famine of Kim Jong-il’s era.

In the 1960s and 1970s, North Korea rebuilt quickly from the ashes of the Korean War with Soviet help, and its economy was stronger than that of rival South Korea. But natural disasters and outdated agricultural practices, compounded by the loss of Soviet aid, triggered a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of North Koreans in the mid- to late 1990s. Chronic food shortages persist.

“I expect North Korea to come up with more practical ideas that can help feed the people and strengthen the image of Kim Jong-un as someone who’s capable of that,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Mr. Koh added that Kim “has to demonstrate that he is a capable leader from now on.”

Park Il-hwan contributed to this report.