Events mark an­niver­sary of Kim Jong-il’s death

DPRK mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers pledge loy­alty dur­ing me­mo­rial

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Py­ongyang

The Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea has marked the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the death of Kim Jong-il with vows to unite be­hind his son, Kim Jong-un, and a se­ries of events to show the world that the gov­ern­ment has re­turned to busi­ness as usual de­spite last week’s ex­e­cu­tion of Kim Jongun’s once-pow­er­ful un­cle.

Kim Jong-un sat silently as a sta­dium full of mil­i­tary and party of­fi­cials paid ho­mage to his fa­ther on Tues­day. Ab­sent was Jang Song-thaek, who was ex­e­cuted af­ter be­ing ac­cused of cor­rup­tion and al­legedly try­ing to over­throw the gov­ern­ment.

Kim’s aunt, Kim Ky­onghui, was ab­sent from the state me­mo­rial cer­e­mony, rais­ing ques­tions about her in­flu­ence days af­ter the ex­e­cu­tion of her hus­band, Jang.

Jang’s purg­ing marks the big­gest up­heaval in years in the coun­try, which has con­ducted three nu­clear tests and this year raised the pos­si­bil­ity of nu­clear war with the Repub­lic of Korea and the United States.

Py­ongyang’s KCNA news agency said last week Jang had been ex­e­cuted for try­ing to seize power and for driv­ing the econ­omy “into an un­con­trol­lable catas­tro­phe”.

Kim Ky­ong-hui usu­ally fea­tured promi­nently at im­por­tant DPRK events along­side her nephew, Kim Jong-un, and other mem­bers of the DPRK lead­er­ship.

The coun­try’s state me­dia did not say why she was ab­sent from the com­mem­o­ra­tion at the Kum­su­san Palace of the Sun, in the cap­i­tal, Py­ongyang.

Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, in­clud­ing Kim Jong- un, paid re­spects to the late Kim Jong-il, whose em­balmed body lies in a glass cof­fin in the palace.

Out with the old

Kim Ky­ong- hui has been ab­sent from such events in the past, stok­ing spec­u­la­tion that she was ill, only to reap­pear later.

Ear­lier in the day, the DPRK’s po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship pub­licly pledged their loy­alty to Kim Jong-un

It will al­ways re­main the army of Kim Jong-un de­fend­ing him unto death and up­hold­ing his lead­er­ship only.” CHOE RY­ONG-HAE DI­REC­TOR OF THE GEN­ERAL PO­LIT­I­CAL BUREAU OF THE KPA

at the me­mo­rial gath­er­ing.

Kim Jong- un was shown at the gath­er­ing by state tele­vi­sion as sit­ting center stage be­neath a big red mu­ral of a flag em­bla­zoned with a pic­ture of his smil­ing fa­ther.

Kim Jong- un took over when his fa­ther died in De­cem­ber 2011.

Since tak­ing over as leader, the young Kim has fol­lowed his fa­ther’s pro­gram by or­der­ing the DPRK’s third nu­clear test and suc­cess­fully launch­ing a long-range rocket in the face of in­creas­ingly tight UN sanc­tions.

Jang was the only lead­er­ship fig­ure who may have posed any real threat to him.

It is rare that some­one as pow­er­ful in the coun­try as Jang has been re­moved so pub­licly — sug­gest­ing a recog­ni­tion of in­ter­nal di­vi­sions and com­pet­ing fac­tions around Kim Jong-un.

The young Kim has re­moved most of Py­ongyang’s old guard dur­ing his com­par­a­tively short rule, re­plac­ing ag­ing gen­er­als and cadres with fig­ures closer to his age.

He has changed his Korean Peo­ple’s Army chief of staff four times. The job changed hands three times dur­ing his fa­ther’s 17 years in power.

Choe Ry­ong- hae, a party of­fi­cial who has been around the Kim fam­ily for decades but had kept out of the lime­light un­til three years ago, now ap­pears to be the most in­flu­en­tial ad­viser to Kim Jong-un.

On Mon­day, Cho e ad­dressed a gath­er­ing of sol­diers out­side the Kum­su­san Palace of the Sun, stress­ing the army’s unswerv­ing loy­alty to the young Kim.

“It will al­ways re­main the army of Kim Jong-un de­fend­ing him unto death and up­hold­ing his lead­er­ship only,” an of­fi­cial KCNA news agency dis­patch quoted Choe as say­ing.

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