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North Korea's Kim Jong-il cements 'military first' stand with key appointments

North Korea's Kim Jong-il gave son Kim Jong-un a military as well as a political role. The emphasis on military appointments in the politburo fortifies the 'military-first policy.'

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A man walks by a South Korean newspaper bearing photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (c.) and his late father Kim Il-sung (l.) and his youngest son Kim Jong-un, displayed at a news stand in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday.

Ahn Young-joon/AP

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North Korea’s heir presumptive, Kim Jong-un, has received at least one important political position to go along with the military rank of general bequeathed to him by his father, Kim Jong-il.

Kim Jong-un was named vice chairman of the party’s military commission along with Ri Yong-ho, who still outranks him as chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, at the party’s “historic” conference on Tuesday, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday.

The appointments solidify Kim Jong-un’s rise as a military figure who’s in line to inherit his father’s power. Kim Jong-il is chairman of the party’s military commission – and rules as chairman of the real center of power, the National Defense Commission, an entirely separate entity in charge of the North’s military establishment of 1.1 million troops.

Related: 5 key people to watch in North Korea

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