TOKYO, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A previously unknown third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has emerged as a contender for power in Pyongyang, an analyst says.
The son, whose name isn't known, occupies a powerful position in the North Korean army and could have the backing of the military if there is a power struggle in Pyongyang following the death of the 66-year-old Kim Jong Il, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Waseda University and an expert on North Korean affairs, told the newspaper that the third son, believed to be his 30s, joins Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, and the youngest, 28-year-old Kim Jong Chol, as possible successors to "the Dear Leader."
Shigemura told the Telegraph his sources indicate Kim Jong Il has suffered one and possibly two debilitating strokes and has only months to live. North Korea has downplayed previous reports of Kim's supposed ill health.
Kim Jong Chol is believed to have his father's blessing to succeed him. But Pyongyang's unofficial spokesman, U.S.-North Korea Peace Executive Director Kim Myong Chol, told the newspaper there is no power struggle going on, adding that when the time comes, the most appropriate person will be chosen by the Communist Party.