David Guttenfelder, Associated Press
North Korean soldiers salute at the feet of a statue of the late leader Kim Il Sung as they pay their respects on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 on the 66th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — A year after his big public debut, the young man now known in North Korea by the new moniker "Illustrious General" has firmly cemented his position as the nation's next leader.

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Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his late 20s, has been promoted to four-star general and is widely credited in the North with orchestrating an artillery attack on a South Korean front-line island late last year.

Kim Jong Un now regularly appears beside his father, leader Kim Jong Il, at marquee events and on inspection trips to farms and factories.

Officials even say Kim Jong Un has been entrusted with full leadership of the country while his father has made extended trips to China and Russia over the last year.