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North Koreans Rally in Show of Support for New Leader


Thousands of North Koreans gather in Pyongyang at Kim Il Sung square to hold a mass rally in support for their country's policies and new leader Kim Jong Un, January 3, 2012.

Thousands of North Koreans gather in Pyongyang at Kim Il Sung square to hold a mass rally in support for their country's policies and new leader Kim Jong Un, January 3, 2012.

North Koreans took part in a massive rally in the capital, Pyongyang, Tuesday to show support for their country's policies and new leader Kim Jong Un.

Pumping their fists and chanting, tens of thousands of people beat drums and carried placards and large national flags as they paraded across Kim Il Sung Square.

North Korean officials called on citizens to rally behind the young Mr. Kim and protect him as "human shields," while working to solve such pressing problems as food shortages by upholding the policies of late leader Kim Jong Il.

State media broadcast video showing party leaders on a balcony overlooking the multitude of people gathered on the square. It was not clear whether Kim Jong Un was at the rally.

Senior party official Mun Gyong Dok hailed the party's achievements.

"It was a proud year of victory," Mun said. "We've achieved fruits of success after a great march for people's life."

The rally coincided with the traditional publication on New Year's Day of policy-setting editorials in North's three main newspapers.

State television also broadcast Tuesday a video of Mr. Kim inspecting a major army tank division and meeting with soldiers, his first known public activity as supreme commander.

The campaign to install the third-generation Kim as leader has hastened since his father, Kim Jong Il, died more than two weeks ago.

Kim Jong Il led North Korea for 17 years after the death of the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung.

North Korea's neighbors and the United States are keeping close watch on the younger Kim's rise amid uncertainty about how the reclusive country will manage a change of leadership during a time of sensitive negotiations over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

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