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In N. Korea's new leader, shades of past

SEOUL, South Korea -- The resemblance is striking: The full cheeks and quick smile, the confident gait, the habit of gesturing with both hands when he speaks.

North Korea's young new leader, Kim Jong Un, appears to be fashioning himself as the reincarnation of Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and the nation's founder, as he seeks to solidify his hold on the nation's 24 million people after his father's death last month.

Unlike Kim Jong Il, who sequestered himself for three years of mourning before formally taking up the mantle of leadership, Kim Jong Un is moving swiftly to demonstrate a decisiveness perhaps aimed at dispelling concerns about his ability to rule. He is only in his late 20s and made his public debut as his father's anointed successor 15 months ago, far less time than the 20 years Kim Jong Il had to prepare to lead.

With the world watching, Kim Jong Un has tread confidently down the "red silk carpet" laid before him by his father, as one analyst put it, using family tradition as his guideposts. Kim Il Sung has served as his main muse as he seeks to consolidate power and loyalty.

"The image of a young smiling Kim Il Sung is deeply engraved in North Korean people's minds. It is the image of a young general who liberated the nation from Japan's imperial rule," said Ahn Chan-Il, a political scientist at the World Institute for North Korea Studies in South Korea who was born in North Korea. "Kim Jong Un is borrowing from that. Kim Il Sung is resurrected in the looks and behavior of Kim Jong Un."

Two years ago, the world knew so little about the young man that even the South Korean government was spelling his name wrong.

Here's a look at what we know now.

The bloodline: Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were characterized in North Korea as having a divine right to rule, and Kim Jong Un is leaning on this legacy as he shores up support for a third generation of Kim leadership.

The look:Kim Jong Un's resemblance to his grandfather is uncanny -- and likely strategic.

The ceremonies: Solemn and somber in mourning, Kim Jong Un followed the routine set by his father at Kim Il Sung's 1994 funeral. He bowed at three sides of his father's glass-encased casket at Kumsusan Memorial Palace, just as his father did 17 years earlier.

The inspections: Kim Jong Un wasted no time in wading into the public eye. His first inspection visit without his father was a well-documented New Year's Day trip to a tank unit with symbolic ties to his family and his nation's history.

The propaganda: New banners and posters in Pyongyang urge the people to "follow the leadership of respected Comrade Kim Jong Un" and "devotedly defend" Kim Jong Un.

The nicknames: The day his father's death was announced, state media referred to Kim Jong Un with a new, telling nickname: "Great Successor." "Supreme commander" of the military; "supreme leader" of the people, party and army.

The ideology: 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.


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