Events mark anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death
DPRK military and political leaders pledge loyalty during memorial
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.