North Korean officials pledged allegiance to their new leader Kim Jong-un on Thursday in a solemn memorial service for Kim’s late father Kim Jong-il, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported.
North Korea’s No. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam lauded Kim Jong-un as “the supreme leader of our party and army and people,” claiming the successor fully personified the ideas, leadership, personality, virtues, grit and courage of his late father, the report said.
“We will turn sorrow into thousand-fold strength and courage, and tide over the present difficulties,” Kim Yong-nam told tens of thousands of troops in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang.
He also vowed to build “a thriving socialist nation,” by “holding Kim Jong-un in high esteem as another General and supreme leader.”
The new leader in his late 20s had been groomed to succeed his father as the country’s next leader only since his father suffered a stroke in 2008. The junior Kim made his public debut last year when he was named a four-star general and vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party.
Kim Jong-gak, a top military officer, told the packed audience in the square in cold weather that the country’s 1.1 million soldiers “will safeguard comrade Kim Jong-un with their lives.”
Kim Jong-un, wearing a black coat, did not make any public comment as he watched the somber memorial service for his father, who was reported to have died suddenly of heart failure on December 17 at the age of 69.
North Korea held a nation-wide memorial service for Kim Jong-il on Thursday as the final event in the official mourning period for the late leader. The young leader, flanked by key party and military officials, observed three minutes’ silence along with the troops packed into the square, as soldiers fired volleys in memory of his father.
“All the people will observe three minutes’ silence and all locomotives and ships will blow their whistles and those units with sirens will sound them all at once,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.