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N. Korean troops swear loyalty to new leader Kim Jong-un

All Headlines 10:52 January 10, 2012

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korean troops have pledged their allegiance to their new leader Kim Jong-un in the latest public display of military support to his dynastic power succession.

Kim has risen to the post of the supreme commander of the country's 1.1 million-strong military soon after the sudden death of his father, former leader Kim Jong-il, as he consolidates his power.

Soldiers of the army, navy and air force solemnly swore to faithfully follow the leadership of Kim Jong-un in a rally on Monday at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the late Kim's body lies in state, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The mausoleum is considered a sacred place in the communist country as it is also home to the embalmed body of the late Kim's father, North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung.

"We will build a ten thousands-fold bulwark for protecting the supreme commander and become rifles and bombs to serve as Kim Jong-un first line lifeguards and Kim Jong-un first line death-defying corps," Ri Yong-ho, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, read as a pledge at the rally.

All the participants also loudly shouted "Devoted Defense of Kim Jong-un" and "National Reunification" as Ri read the pledge, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

Military support is seen as crucial for the untested young leader in tightening his grip on power. His late father, Kim Jong-il, advocated a military-first, or "songun," politics that channeled the country's scarce resources to the military, a move that helped him earn military loyalty to his totalitarian rule.

The pledge also said the military would "wipe out the enemies to the last one if they intrude into the inviolable sky, land and seas of the country" even slightly, the KCNA said, in apparent reference to South Korea and the United States.

The North routinely claims South Korea and the U.S. have plans for a preemptive attack on the communist country. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter any possible aggression from North Korea.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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