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Age, military ties mark Kim Jong Un's inner circle

By Jean H. Lee

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 1:55 a.m. MST

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2011 file photo, new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, flanked by Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the ceremonial head of state, right, and Ri Yong Ho, a vice marshal of the Korean People's Army, presides over a national memorial service for his late father Kim Jong Il at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.

File, Associated Press

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Wherever North Korea's young new leader goes, a group of graying military and political officials shadow him.

As Kim Jong Un steps into the role of "supreme commander," these officials can be seen in the background listening attentively, smiling and clapping.

Since his father, Kim Jong Il, died of a heart attack in December, Kim Jong Un has assumed the mantle of leadership with apparent confidence.

But his circle of advisers are never far behind. They lend the young man gravitas and experience while also making clear that he has the backing of the powerful military.

All have long-standing ties to his father or his grandfather.

Klug reported from Seoul, South Korea.

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