(ATTN: ADDS unification ministry's comment, more info in paras 8-9)
By Choi Soo-hyang
SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper on Monday published a series of articles lauding late leader Kim Jong-il on the eve of the eighth anniversary of his death.
Kim died on Dec. 17, 2011, after ruling the communist nation for 17 years after the death of his father and national founder, Kim Il-sung, in 1994. Current leader Kim Jong-un, the third son of the late leader, took over the North in another hereditary succession of power.
In a front-page editorial, the Rodong Sinmun said the late leader achieved unity within the country for the North to "thrive even under harsh circumstances and the worst ordeals."
"It is thanks to our unity, which is stronger than the nuclear weapons, that we could become a strategic country under the banner of independence in today's world rampant with imperialists' tyranny," it said.
The newspaper also highlighted the late leader's contribution to North Korea's economic development, saying that a novel was recently published about Kim's efforts for the growth of the country's chemical industry.
In another article, the paper stressed the late leader's love of people and efforts to improve the livelihoods of North Koreans, carrying an anecdote of Kim signing an order to provide fish to citizens on the night of Dec. 16 before his death.
"Our late leader's entire life was dedicated to people," the newspaper said.
The South Korean government said no signs indicating the North's preparations for a major event have been detected so far. The North usually marks an important national holiday with bigger events on every fifth or 10th anniversary.
"Our related department is keeping a watch on the North's media reports," unification ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min said at a regular briefing.
Last year, Kim Jong-un visited the mausoleum of his late father in Pyongyang to commemorate the seventh anniversary of his death.
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