N. Koreans mark Kim Jong-il’s 3rd anniversary of death

December 17, 2014
The Dec. 17 edition of North Korea's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, is filled with articles lauding the country's late leader Kim Jong-il on the third anniversary of his death. (Yonhap)

The Dec. 17 edition of North Korea’s main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, is filled with articles lauding the country’s late leader Kim Jong-il on the third anniversary of his death. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korea held a national event Wednesday commemorating the third anniversary of the death of its leader Kim Jong-il.

A memorial service was held at the square in front of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, according to the nation’s media.

Kim’s youngest son, the current leader Kim Jong-un, attended the ceremony, along with his wife Ri Sol-ju and top military and party officials, including premier Pak Pong-ju.

However, Kim’s aunt Kim Kyong-hui did not appear amid wide speculation about her fate. Her husband Jang Song-thaek was executed a year ago.

Kim Jong-un also paid his respects at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of his father and grandfather Kim Il-sung lie in state, according to a video clip played by Korean Central Television.

The North’s media said the communist nation was observing the anniversary in the “solemnest” mood.

Sirens sounded across the communist country at noon, with vehicles and ships honking all at once, reported the Korean Central News Agency.

Everyone “observed three minutes of silence” toward the palace, according to the state news agency.

Pyongyang’s media also churned out reports lauding the former leader, referred to as “Dear Leader,” and the current leader’s accomplishments over the past three years.

The main newspaper Rodong Sinmun carried a large picture of Kim Jong-il on its front page, coupled with an editorial extolling him. Other pages were filled with pictures of him and related stories.

A headline read Kim “will be alive forever” as the “sun” of the country.

The newspaper also said North Koreans pledged their loyalty to Kim Jong-un, who is reportedly in his early 30s.

It highlighted the younger Kim’s “victory” in the fight against western powers and said the era of the “great” leader had fully begun.

Korean Central Television has aired related programs without interruption, according to the South’s unification ministry.

“We have confirmed that Korean Central Television has been broadcasting overnight without a daily closing program yesterday,” the ministry’s deputy spokeswoman Park Soo-jin said at a press briefing. “It’s rather unusual.”

Kim Jong-un is entering his fourth year in power and many North Korea watchers expect him to step up efforts to strengthen his grip on state affairs.

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