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Published: Saturday, 12/24/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

N. Korean heir hailed as military's leader

North Korea is ramping up its campaign to install Kim Jong Un as his father's successor.  North Korea is ramping up its campaign to install Kim Jong Un as his father's successor.

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- North Korea hailed Kim Jong Il's son as "supreme leader" of the 1.2 million-member military, ramping up its campaign to install the young man as the nation's next leader as the mourning for his father continued a week after his death.

Kim Jong Un made a third visit Saturday to the palace where his father's body is lying in state -- this time as "supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces" and accompanied by North Korea's top military brass, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea also urged South Korea to "show proper respect" for its late leader, calling the South's decision to express sympathy for the North Korean people but not to send a government delegation to Kim's funeral "an unbearable insult and mockery of our dignity."

The statement, carried on the North's official Web site, Uriminzokkiri.com, was the new leadership's first comment on the South Korean policy.

"The South's authorities must think about the grave impact its actions will have on North-South relations," the North Korean statement said. "Depending on what it does, the relations can thaw or completely derail."

The statement said North Korea will open its air and land border with the South to accept all condolence delegations from South Korea.

Guaranteeing their safety, the statement warned South Korea against blocking their trips.

In Seoul, Unification Minister Yu Woo Ik, the government's top policy maker on North Korea, said the South did not plan to revise its decision not to send an official delegation.

South Korean officials also said that they would permit condolences to be mailed or faxed by individuals and private organizations.

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