*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1)
North Korea Glorifies Late Leader Kim Jong-il on His 70th Birthday
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Marking the 70th birth anniversary of late leader Kim Jong-il, North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam on Feb. 15 highly praised the great achievements of the late leader and asked the party and military leaders to pay respect and loyalty to his successor and youngest son Kim Jong-un.
The eulogy for the late Kim was delivered during a national meeting held at an indoor hall in Pyongyang on the eve of the late leader's birthday on Feb. 16, which was declared "Day of the Kwangmyongsong (Shining Star)."
North Korea has eulogized the late leader who has elevated the socialist country into a nuclear state and led the state to manufacture and launch artificial satellites, adding that Kim Jong-il "made immortal contributions to global peace and stability."
The North's state television broadcast the indoor meeting at the April 25 Cultural Hall in Pyongyang, where hundreds of senior military and party officials were present. Kim Jong-un, who chaired the meeting, was seen sitting at a seat once held by his father.
"We pay the greatest respect for our great leader Kim Jong-il and hold in eternal glory," Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), said in a speech.
Kim Jong-il's nearly 70 year-long revolutionary life was the most brilliant life of the peerlessly great man who adorned the protracted course of the Juche (self-reliance) revolution, the Songun (military-first) revolution with shining victory and glory, with boundless loyalty to the idea and cause of President Kim Il-sung, Kim Yong-nam said.
Top party and military cadres sitting near the stone-faced Jong-un included his aunt Kim Kyong-hui, who was made a general in 2010 despite her little military experience.
Her husband Jang Song-thaek was also seen at the national meeting wearing a military uniform together with other leaders including Premier Choe Yong-rim, chief of the General Staff of the (North) Korean People's Army Ri Yong-ho, People's Armed Forces Minister Kim Yong-chun.
Kim Yong-nam praised the late leader's record in elevating the North into "a nuclear state" that could also produce and launch satellites -- a reference to its controversial missile program.
He urged North Koreans to remain loyal to Jong-un, describing him as the great leader who will build a prosperous and powerful country.
All the participants observed a moment's silence in the humblest reverence in memory of Kim Jong-il, the father of the nation and peerless Songun brilliant commander, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)
Kim Yong-nam said in the report, "He, who was born as son of guerrillas in Mt. Paektu and grew up to be a great revolutionary, led the Korean revolution and the human cause of independence to victory with his distinguished idea, rare leadership and noble virtues, thus performing immortal feats on behalf of the country and the nation, the times and the history."
Kim Yong-nam continued, saying the deceased North Korean leader formulated the three charters for national reunification true to the last instructions of the President for the country's reunification, and provided the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and the October 4 declaration with his immensely broad magnanimity and attraction.
"Kim Jong-il's idea and cause are being steadfastly carried forward by the dear respected Kim Jong-un, the only successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche," said the SPA Presidium president.
It is necessary to make sustained great efforts to bolster the country's defense capability to the maximum, Kim said, emphasizing that it is imperative to carry out the historic tasks for laying the firm foundation for an economic power so as to open the gate to a thriving nation this significant year.
"The DPRK (North Korea) will, in the future, too, hold fast to the idea of independence, friendship and peace and boost the relations of friendship with all the countries that respect its sovereignty," he said.
Meanwhile, North Korea has awarded its highest title to the late leader Kim Jong-il as a generalissimo by praising him for turning the North into a nuclear power, the country's state media reported on Feb. 15.
The announcement that Kim had been posthumously appointed "Generalissimo" came a day after a statue of the former strongman was unveiled in Pyongyang, showing him on horseback alongside his own father and national founder Kim Il-sung. The late Kim's new title of "generalissimo" is the same as that bestowed in 1992 on his father Kim Il-sung, who died of a heart attack in 1994.
Separately, the North's young leader Kim Jong-un carried out the first promotion of 23 military generals since he took power, the KCNA said. The junior Kim has been declared supreme commander of the 1.2 million-strong military as well as national leader.
According to the KCNA dispatch, the North promoted Kim Jong-gak, the first vice-director of the North Korean military's General Political Bureau, as a vice marshal. He is regarded as one of the key figures helping the inexperienced Jong-un tighten his grip on the military.
He was one of the seven top officials who accompanied Jong-un in walking beside his father's hearse during the funeral procession on Dec. 28.
His promotion clearly signaled that the party was trying to strengthen its control over the military, which had become too powerful under the Songun policy, the analyst said.
Meanwhile, the North's KCNA reported Feb. 14 that some 132 people have been awarded a new medal, the Order of Kim Jong-il, for services in building a "thriving socialist nation" and for increasing defense capabilities.
The recipients included core members of the party and the military including Kim Yong-nam, Choe Yong-rim, Ri Yong-ho, Jang Song-thaek and Kim Kyong-hui.
A notable figure among the awardees was Kim Ok, believed to be the fourth wife of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Rarely seen in the public, her name was open to the public for the first time.
One of the award recipients was Kim Yong-chol, director of the North's general reconnaissance bureau, who is suspected to have been involved in Pyongyang's sinking of a South Korean warship near their disputed western sea border in March 2010.
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