New York Times News Service

SEOUL, South Korea — The declaration on Thursday that Kim Jong Un is now the “supreme leader” of North Korea was an emotional turning point for the hermetic country — reaffirming support for the young heir after nearly two weeks of national mourning for his father, Kim Jong Il.

The naming of Kim as supreme leader was partly a formality — all signals have pointed to his taking over both the military and the Workers’ Party — but it was also an important step in the push to strengthen his position in any power struggles that might follow.

Kim is young — believed to be in his 20s — and untested, making him more vulnerable to challenges.

The announcement of Kim’s elevation was made by Kim Yong Nam, the president of the North Korean Parliament, who is considered the ceremonial head of state.

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