Skip to main content

North Korea holds big parade on anniversary of dead leader's birth

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 16, 2012 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: State television shows a large military parade in Pyongyang
  • Kim died in December and has been succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Un
  • Thursday is the first of two big occasions for North Korea in the early months of 2012
  • In April, the country will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung

Paju, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea held a huge military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday, using the 70th anniversary of the birth of its late leader Kim Jong Il as an opportunity to try to invoke deeper reverence for his son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Un.

State television broadcast footage of the younger Kim and senior officials from the secretive regime on a platform overlooking a square filled with thousands of people. The platform was bedecked with Kimjongilias, the brilliant pink flower named after the dead leader.

With a giant portrait of a smiling Kim Jong Il, who died in December, looking down on proceedings, soldiers carried out a salute to him and his father, Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea.

The soldiers paid "high respects" to the two deceased Kims and pledged loyalty to Kim Jong Un, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

In South Korea, two dozen North Korean defectors met in a park to release balloons carrying criticism of Kim Jong Il over the heavily militarized border that separates the two countries, a move that has irritated Pyongyang in the past.

Thursday is the first of two big occasions in the early months of 2012 for the nuclear-armed North Korean regime to eulogize former dictators and reinforce the position of its young new leader.

The 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, who ruled North Korea for almost half a decade, takes place on April 15. The date of his birth, known as "the Day of the Sun," is the biggest national holiday in North Korea. Kim Jong Il's birthday was recently dubbed "the Day of the Shining Star."

Kim Jong Il was 'normal guy' with doctor
Kim Jong Il's final farewell
North Korea's future post-Kim Jong Il

The significant anniversaries come soon after Kim Jong Un, who is thought to be in his late 20s, was elevated to the position of "supreme leader" of the insular state.

North Korean newspapers on Thursday carried special reports on Kim Jong Il. Before the parade began airing, Korean Central Television (KCTV), the government-run news broadcaster, showed chorus groups singing lyrics in praise of him, as well as images from his life.

And state-run media have already documented a number of events and initiatives that took place ahead of the anniversary of his birth.

Kim Jong Un and other senior officials attended a "national meeting" Wednesday to commemorate the occasion, according to KCNA.

Kim Yong Nam, the president of the North Korean parliament, made a speech at the event praising Kim Jong Il's "immortal feats" and also urging that "all the party members, service persons and people should protect Kim Jong Un politically and ideologically with their lives and get united around him."

Other recent measures related to Kim Jong Il's birthday reported by state media include an ice sculpture festival held by public security forces and the delivery of gifts to children across the country, in some cases by helicopter.

Pyongyang has warned South Korea and other countries not to expect any change in its policies under Kim Jong Un. It has kept up its criticism of the current South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak.

The United States said Monday that a U.S. envoy will meet with North Korean officials next week to test Pyongyang's stance on its nuclear program. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies will meet with his counterpart, North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, in Beijing

The North Korean regime's willingness to talk to Washington but not Seoul has been criticized in South Korea.

"Two months after a leadership change in Pyongyang, North Korea is returning to the dialogue table," The Korea Times, an English-language daily, said in an editorial Thursday. "That's good news. Not so good news is it seems to be interested only in its conversation partner across the Pacific, not across the inter-Korean border."

The North Korean defectors in the park in Paju sent balloons Thursday carrying leaflets that called on the North Korean people to rise up and fight. The large helium balloons had writing on them, saying things like, "Kim Jong Il starved to death 3 million people," "Liberate the North Korean people" and "North Korean killer Kim Jong Il."

They sent 200,000 leaflets, 500 DVDs and $1,000 in one dollar bills.

CNN's Paula Hancocks, Jethro Mullen and Judy Kwon contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT