N Koreans urged to defend new leader to death

Successor and youngest son of late leader Kim Jong-il is formally appointed head of the communist nation's military.

    North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un salutes as he and his uncle accompany the hearse carrying his father [Reuters]

    North Korea has urged its people to defend new leader Kim Jong-Un to the death and vowed an all-out push for prosperity, in a New Year state newspaper editorial setting out policy goals.

    "The whole party, the entire army and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-Un unto death, and follow the great party for ever," it said.

    Jong-Un, aged in his late 20s, was proclaimed the "great successor" after his father and longtime leader Kim Jong-Il died on December 17.

    On Saturday the North announced he had formally been appointed supreme commander of the 1.2-million-strong military, the world's fourth-largest.

    Sunday's editorial vowed to "consolidate" the armed forces and called for the United States to pull its 28,500 troops out of South Korea. But it said Pyongyang will "strive to develop relations of friendship with countries that respect our country's sovereignty".

    The editorial, published in the ruling communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun and other papers, stressed the role of the party, which was sidelined by Kim senior in favour of the military.

    Policy agenda

    The impoverished country has set the goal of becoming a "powerful and prosperous" nation this year.

    The editorial, used every year to outline the policy agenda, did not mention the country's nuclear weapons programme, which has earned it international sanctions.

    The editorial renewed criticism of the South's conservative government, saying the "traitors" failed to respect the mourning for Kim.

    Seoul expressed sympathy to the North's people but not its regime and allowed just two private mourning delegations to visit Pyongyang.

    Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from the South Korean capital, said: "In terms of the South Korea reaction, [there is] nothing official yet. President Myung-bak is expected to make a presidential speech on Monday.

    "There has been an anonymous source quoted in local media [in Seoul] saying that the North Korean statement is less conciliatory than last year, showing no willingness to talk.

    "But that doesn’t mean that the window for possible talks between the two countries has been closed."

    The North, closing ranks publicly behind its new chief, has warned the world not to expect policy changes and has threatened South Korea for perceived disrespect during the 13-day mourning period for Kim Jong-Il.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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