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Kim meets with South Koreans

PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korea’s next leader burnished his diplomatic skills, solemnly welcoming a private South Korean mourning delegation and offering his thanks, as state media called Kim Jong Un a “sagacious” leader and revealed a new title that gives him authority over political matters.

Kim has rapidly gained prominence since the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, on Dec. 17, and his brief meeting with a group led by a former South Korean first lady and a prominent business leader shows Seoul that he is assured in his new role.

State media have showered Kim with new titles. On Monday, the main Rodong Sinmun newspaper described him as head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party – a post that appears to make him the top official in the ruling party. That came two days after the North referred to him as “supreme leader” of the 1.2 million-strong armed forces and said the military’s top leaders had pledged their loyalty to him.

Late Monday, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency also called Kim a “sagacious leader” and “dear” comrade while reporting that he again paid respects to his father, whose body is lying in state at Kumsusan Memorial Palace. State media have already dubbed him as a “great successor” and an “outstanding leader.”

KCNA also indicated that Kim will uphold his father’s trademark “military-first” policy.

“As dear comrade Kim Jong Un, who is a sagacious leader of our party, state and military, is at the forefront of our revolutionary cause, the history of our father and general’s glorious military-first revolution will continue,” it said.

Also on Monday, Kim met a private delegation of South Koreans and gave them his thanks after they expressed condolences and sympathy over his father’s death.

Monday’s meeting appeared to be Kim’s first meeting with South Koreans since his father’s death.