Topic: N.Korea Satellite Launch
PYONGYANG, April 15 (RIA Novovsti, Andrew Roth)
- North Korean Leader Lauds Army in First Speech
- A Missile and a PR Campaign Disappear in Pyongyang
- Largest Kim Jong-il Monument Unveiled in Pyongyang
- North Korea Rocket Launch Fails
The cement pavement on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang shook as dozens of divisions of the Korean People’s Army goosestepped to a military brass band in perfect synchrony. Later came the big guns: Soviet-era military trucks drove in parade formations carrying missile launchers, drone airplanes and heavy rockets, the pride of the North Korean army.
It was supposed to be a day in honor of the country’s founder, Kim Il-Sung, but it was his young, untested grandson who stole the show. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un seemed relaxed as he broke a five-month drought with his first public speech since he assumed power after his father’s death in December. Yet the military also wrapped up the unannounced military parade by unveiling what appeared to be a new rocket, the latest addition to an arsenal that includes nuclear capabilities.
The speech and the rocket’s appearance seemed to be a response to the latest crisis for the North Korean leadership. Despite a seemingly untouchable cult of personality, young Kim Jong-Un’s grip on power fell under scrutiny this week. The failure of North Korea’s Unha-3 rocket launch on Friday plunged the future of the country’s advanced weapons systems, including the range of its nuclear threat, into doubt.
As a result the North Korean government returned to what it does best – carefully coreographed rallies singing the praises of its idolized leaders. But today’s celebrations were also determined to bring Kim Jong-Un into the spotlight, solidifying his place as the third ruler in a dynasty dating back to 1972.
At dusk, North Koreans gathered for a massive fireworks display over the Paedong river in the city center. Sitting packed together on a dirt bank along the river promenade, they broke into a song calling for them to follow in the footsteps of their respected leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Kim Chon Su, an aide to the local arm of the ruling party, took a break from singing and said that North Koreans took the holiday as a chance to wish one another good health for Kim Jong-Un.
Zhen Nam Khek, a factory worker, said that the centennial of Kim Il-Sung’s birth was a once in a lifetime chance to praise the virtues of his grandson’s rule.
In his speech at today’s rally, Kim Jong-Un extolled his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, for developing North Korea’s economic and military might. Saying he would follow in his predecessors’ footsteps, he cemented the army’s central place in North Korean politics and daily life.
“The military should be the pioneer to plant the roots of a strong and prosperous nation,” said Kim Jong-Un.
Ri, a guide appointed by the North Korean government, said that Kim Jong-Un understood the importance of projecting strength in order to maintain the country’s interests against “imperialist aggressors.”
“If someone is stronger than you, then they can take what they want from you. The only way to stop that is by being stronger yourself,” said Ri.
Kim Jong-Un’s public statement today showed a considerable step away from his father, Kim Jong-Il, whose voice was only broadcast once by radio. But for those gathered, the message was conservative: Kim Jong-Un plans to keep North Korea on the same track as his idolized predecessors.
“Respected comrade Kim Jong-Un is similar to the great Kim Il-Song and Kim Jong-Il. We think that they are one,” said Chong Song Sun, a Pyongyang native after today’s military parade.
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