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North Korea

North Korea's military dominate as Kim Jong-Un declared Supreme Leader


North Korea’s politics look set to remain dominated by the military, judging by the massive memorial service for the late leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang Thursday. Kim’s son, Jong-Un, was formally declared Supreme Leader, but speakers made it clear that the military’s privileged position will be maintained.


Praising Kim Jong-Il for contributing to "global peace and stability of the 21st century", ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-Nam declared Kim Jong-Un "the supreme leader of our party and army and people", who had inherited his late father's spirit, leadership, personality, morality and fortitude.

Map of North and South Korea
Anthony Terrade/RFI

The North would "transform the sorrow into strength and courage 1,000 times greater under the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-Un and will march firmly along the path of Songun taught by great leader Kim Jong-Il".

The Songun policy prioritises the welfare of the 1.2 million-strong armed forces - the world's fourth-largest military - over civilians.

Kim Jong-Gak, head of military administration, pledged the military's loyalty to the new leader, who has been named a general but has not served in the armed forces.

All troops "will become a wall to protect" him, he said.

Tens of thousands of people attended the ceremony on Kim Il-Sung square, named after Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, the anti-Japanese resistance fighter who founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-Il.

Next to Kim Jong-Un on the balcony overlooking the square were:

  • Kim Jong-Gak;
  • Kim Yong-Nam;
  • Military chief Ri Yong-Ho;
  • Senior ruling party officials Kim Ki-Man and Choe Thae-Bok;
  • Defence minister Kim Yong-Chun;
  • His uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, was also present, according to South Korea's unification ministry.

The ceremony ended with an artillery salute.

As a huge funeral took place on Wednesday, the ruling party's paper, Rodong Sinmun, praised Jong-Il's policy of launching satellites and acquiring nuclear arms.

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