North Korea commemorated the first anniversary of late dictator Kim Jong Il’s death, five days after his son and successor Kim Jong Un defied international sanctions and successfully fired a long-range rocket.
Kim Jong Un presided over a commemoration ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang, where his father’s body lies in state, the official Korean Central News Agency said today. The anniversary caps off weeks of celebrations that included a biographical film, building mosaics of the late leader and schoolchildren writing poems and songs in his honor.
The younger Kim, believed to be less than 30 years old, has focused on consolidating his grip over the totalitarian regime through a series of military and government personnel reshuffling. North Korea is seeking to use the Dec. 12 rocket launch to rally the military and the people behind him, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said last week.
“While Kim Jong Un has shown some amateurism over the past year, he has generally expressed strong desire for absolute power and control over the elite and greater openness for western culture than his father had been,” Cheong Seong Chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said in an e-mailed analysis. “His leadership is authoritarian and militaristic, far from the democratic way of rule that we hope for.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org