News / Asia

    North Korea Marks 2nd Anniversary of Kim Jong Il's Death

    orth Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.
    orth Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.
    VOA News
    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led events commemorating the second anniversary of his father's death, just days after the execution of the uncle who was thought to be his mentor and second in command.

    Kim joined other top military and political leaders Tuesday at a somber memorial service at a Pyongyang auditorium where an image of his father, ex-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was hanging on stage.

    One of the speakers was Choe Ryong Hae, the director of the powerful Army General Political Department.

    "As we recall the revolutionary life and indelible achievements of our Generalissimo Kim Jong Il, we are strengthening our will and belief to honor the Great General Kim Jong Un's ideas and military power by obeying his 'military-first' revolutionary policy," said Choe.

    Others also pledged unwavering loyalty to the Kim dynasty, promising to protect the country with their lives and saying that the country has made progress since the younger Kim took over.

    The elder Kim died unexpectedly in December 2011, leaving power to his young and inexperienced son, who has been replacing some of the country's top leaders in an effort to consolidate power.

    • North Korean soldiers march on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang as others pay their respects beneath portraits of the late leaders Kim Jong Il, right, and Kim Il Sung, Dec. 17, 2013.
    • North Koreans lay flowers beneath portraits of the late leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, Dec. 17, 2013.
    • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, Dec. 17, 2013.
    • North Koreans offer flowers in front of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansudae hill in Pyongyang, on the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il, Dec. 17, 2013. (KCNA)
    • North Koreans present wreaths and bow in front of portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as they mourn the second death anniversary of Kim Jong Il at the North Korean embassy in the Chinese border city of Dandong, Dec. 17, 2013.
    • North Korean defectors tear a caricature of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korea rally marking the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death, Seoul, Dec. 17, 2013.
    • A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is burned by protesters during an anti-North Korea rally marking the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death, Seoul, Dec. 17, 2013.


    Last week, Pyongyang announced the execution of Jang Song Thaek, a powerful figure who had been viewed as a mentor to the younger Kim following his father's death.

    Jang, who was married to Kim Jong Il's sister Kim Kyong Hui, was accused of trying to overthrow the state, along with a series of other abuses, such as corruption, womanizing and drug use.

    Kim Kyong Hui, herself a powerful figure, did not appear on stage in videos of the ceremony that appeared on state media. There has been speculation about whether she survived the purge of Jang's associates, some of whom were also executed.

    Many disagree about what the development means for the notoriously secretive North Korean leadership, but most Korea watchers were surprised at Pyongyang's acknowledgement of dissension within its ranks.

    North Korea's neighbors, meanwhile, are watching closely for possible military provocations from the North. South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Tuesday said it is "highly likely" that Pyongyang will do this between late January and early March.

    "They may try to partially strengthen the sole leadership with the reign of terror, but anxiety of North Korean people and other power groups will grow. Making a military provocation is a conventional way to relive the anxiety," said Kim.

    North Korea has already conducted three nuclear weapons tests in recent years, and held several long-range missile launches, both of which are banned by United Nations sanctions.

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