North Koreans mark late leader’s death

North Koreans mark late leader’s death

SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
North Koreans mark late leader’s death

North Korean army officers bow at an image of late leader Kim Jong-il during a national meeting on the eve of Kim’s first death anniversary in Pyongyang. AP photo

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un led thousands of officials yesterday in a memorial ceremony for his late father and ex-ruler Kim Jong-il, days after a successful long-range rocket launch.

Officials in black suits and uniformed military leaders convened in a cavernous stadium in the capital Pyongyang yesterday morning for the hour-long memorial event, which was televised live on state TV.

Emphasis on launch
Jong-un, stone-faced and clad in a black Mao suit, sat on stage with dozens of other top officials against the backdrop of a giant red flag featuring a large portrait of a smiling Kim Jong-il. “The heart of the great leader stopped beating but Comrade Kim Jong-il lives with us forever... to give blessings for the bright future of our people,” the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam said in a speech. “The successful launch of our Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite is also another victory achieved by our military and people, by faithfully following the teachings of the Kim Jong-il,” he said.

Kim Jong-il, who ruled the communist state for 17 years, died of a heart attack on Dec. 17 last year. Pyongyang apparently timed the launch to mark the death anniversary and to drum up more support for the young and inexperienced Jong-un.

Officials, students, workers and soldiers in three northern provinces rallied Dec. 15 to give speeches and sing songs in memory of the late ruler and to praise his son for leading the successful launch.