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    North Koreans celebrate 62nd anniversary


    by ODN


    North Korea has marked its 62nd anniversary with patriotic songs admiring leader Kim Jong Il, amid uncertainty over whether the secretive country has begun a rare political meeting believed to be aimed at promoting one of Kim's sons as his successor.

    Thousands marked the anniversary by placing flowers at the foot of a giant statue of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, with national flags decorating many street corners.

    Posters were also put up announcing the Workers' Party meeting, although an exact date for the gathering had not yet been disclosed.

    State media reported on Monday that delegates were gathering in Pyongyang to elect new party leaders in what would be North Korea's first major political conference in 30 years.

    Analysts believe Kim will use the conference to give his third and youngest son, Kim Jong Un, a key party position in efforts to hand over power to him and extend the Kim dynasty into a third generation.

    Kim Jong Il himself took over leadership after his father Kim Il Sung, died of heart failure in 1994 - a handover that was communism's first hereditary transfer of power.

    North Korea watchers say the meeting may have been postponed because of Kim Jong Il's deteriorating health and recent devastating flooding.