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Kim Jong-un (left) seated with Ri Yong-ho (center) and Kim Jong-il (right) on September 28th, 2010, at the front of Kumsusan Memorial Palace for the meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea
On 8 March 2009, the BBC reported rumors that Kim Jong-un appeared on the ballot for elections to the Supreme People's Assembly, the rubber stamp parliament of North Korea. Subsequent reports indicate that his name did not appear on the list of lawmakers, however he was later elevated to a mid-level position in the National Defense Commission, which is a branch of the North Korean Military. Reports have also suggested that he is a diabetic and suffers from hypertension.
From 2009, it was understood by foreign diplomatic services that Kim was to succeed his father Kim Jong-il as the head of the Korean Workers' Party and de-facto head of state of North Korea. He has been named "Yŏngmyŏng-han Tongji" (영명한 동지) which loosely translates to "Brilliant Comrade". His father had also asked embassy staff abroad to pledge loyalty to his son. There have also been reports that citizens in North Korea have been encouraged to sing a newly composed "song of praise" to Kim Jong-un, in a similar fashion to that of praise songs relating to Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung. Later in June, Kim was reported to have visited China secretly to "present himself" to the Chinese leadership, who later warned against North Korea conducting another nuclear test. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has strongly denied that this visit occurred.
North Korea was later reported to have backed the succession plan, after Kim Jong-il suspended a propaganda campaign to promote his youngest son. His birthday has since become a national holiday, celebrated on 1 January, according to a report by a South Korean website. He was expected to be named on 28 September 2010 as successor to his father as leader of North Korea.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited China in early September 2010, and discussed the issue of North Korean leadership succession with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. According to Carter, Wen told Carter that Kim Jong-il had said to Wen that Kim Jong-un's prospective promotion to paramount leader of North Korea was "a false rumor from the West."
Kim Jong-un was made a Daejang, the equivalent to an American Four-Star General, on 27 September 2010, a day ahead of a rare Workers' Party of Korea conference in Pyongyang, the first time North Korean media had mentioned him by name and despite his having no previous military experience. Despite the promotion, no further details, including verifiable portraits of Jong-un were released. On 28 September 2010 he was named vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and appointed to the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, in an apparent nod to become the successor to Kim Jong-il.
On 10 October 2010, alongside his father the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un attended the ruling Workers' Party's 65th anniversary celebration. This was seen as fully confirming his position as the next leader of the Workers' Party. Unprecedented international press access was granted to the event, further indicating the importance of Kim Jong-un's presence.