North Korea's leader lauds 'military first' philosophy at parade
SEOUL AND BEIJING -- Kim Jong Un, the new North Korean leader, touted the same old slogans of "military first" at a massive military parade of goose-stepping soldiers in formation.
In a live broadcast of the event on North Korean television, the 28-year-old successor of Kim Il Sung appeared before a crowd of thousands on a balcony, wearing a dark navy Mao suit.
"Superiority in military technology is no longer a monopoly of the imperialists, and an era when enemies threatened and blackmailed us with atomic bombs has gone forever," Kim Jong Un said in a 20-minute address, stressing his country's possession of nuclear deterrent.
Kim Jong Un alluded to the failed attempt Friday to launch a rocket and satellite.
"The military is more important than rocket," he said. "Building a strong nation, developing the people’s army and peace is important."
Although the message was much the same as under Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December, the fact that he spoke in public showed a new style. Kim Jong Il, who was reputed to have a squeaky speaking voice, publicly addressed the nation only once -- in 1992, when he uttered one sentence: "Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People's Army!"
"This officially marks an end to Kim Jong Il era," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul. "Kim Jong Un has announced that his time has begun while bringing out loyalty of the military and the party."
Sunday’s ceremonies were designed to mark the centennial of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth. It was vintage North Korean pageantry, with people turned into human mosaics holding up cards that spelled out propaganda slogans. North Korea strutted their massive arsenal –- tanks, missiles, artillery.
Fighter planes streaked through the sky. Thousands of people waved artificial flowers designed to look like Kimilsongia and Kimjongilia — special hybrids named for the late leader.
-- Jung-yoon Choi in Seoul and Barbara Demick in Beijing
Photo: Kim Jong Un applauds Sunday as he leaves the military parade marking the centennial of founder Kim Il Sung's birth. Credit: Associated Press