North Korea marks first anniversary of late ruler’s death
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un led thousands of officials in a triumphant memorial service for his late father and ex-ruler Kim Jong-il, days after a long-range rocket launch, state TV showed on Sunday.
The service followed a mass rally two days earlier that also lauded the launch of the three-stage rocket, a move which was condemned by the UN Security Council and seen by many countries as a disguised ballistic missile test.
Kim Jong-il, who ruled the communist state for nearly two decades, died of heart attack on December 17 last year.
His youngest son, Jong-un, immediately took over in the third-generation power transfer of the Kim dynasty which ruled the isolated country for more than six decades with an iron fist and pervasive personality cult.
On Sunday, Jong-un, stone-faced and clad in black Mao suit, was seen sitting at the stage along with dozens of other top officials against a giant red flag in the background featuring a large portrait of smiling Kim Jong-il.
“The heart of the great leader stopped beating but the comrade Kim Jong-il lives with us forever...to give blessing for the bright future of our people,” the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam said in a speech.
“The successful launch of our Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite is also another victory achieved by our military and people, by faithfully following the teachings of the great leader (Kim Jong-il),” he said.
The impoverished but nuclear-armed North staged the widely-condemned rocket in an apparent bid to mark the anniversary and to drum up more support for the young and inexperienced leader Jong-un.
The North said the apparently successful launch – its second after its much-heralded but botched mission in April – was a scientific project to put its weather satellite into the orbit.
But the United States and allies South Korea and Japan view it as a disguised long-range missile test banned under UN resolutions triggered by its past nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.