North Korea Hails Era of 'Supreme Leader'

Unofficial power transfer takes place at memorial to Kim Jong Il
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2011 7:17 AM CST
North Korea Hails Kim as 'Supreme Leader'
People observe a silent prayer during a national memorial service for late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

North Koreans crammed into Pyongyang's main square today to hail Kim Jong Un as "supreme leader of the party, state, and army," in a memorial service for Kim Jong Il that the BBC notes appears to mark the unofficial transfer of power. The younger Kim was joined by North Korea's top brass on center stage. "The fact that he completely resolved the succession matter is Great Comrade Kim Jong Il's most noble achievement," said Kim Yong Nam, the country's No. 2 leader. The New York Times puts the crowd at "tens of thousands," and notes that most were uniformed soldiers.

Some had been fearful of a power struggle, as the official transition was not complete when Kim Jong Il died, but the late leader's two older sons did not make an appearance at the funeral. But the Times notes that it remains to be seen whether Kim Jong Un will rely on caretakers or regents. Kim Yong Nam also promised the country's sorrow would turn to strength "1,000 times greater under the leadership of comrade Kim Jong Un," and called on citizens to "solidify [his] monolithic leadership." One of the country's top military officials promised Kim Jong Un would continue the Songun (military-first) policy of channeling money into the military; Kim Yong Nam credited that policy with turning North Korea into "a proud nuclear weapons state." (More Kim Jong Il stories.)

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