North Korea put its military hardware on show at a parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire - an event that will be closely watched for any evidence the country has made progress in its ballistic missile programme.
Thousands of troops and spectators roared "Protect Kim Jong-un with our lives" when the youthful leader appeared on the podium, flanked by top party and military leaders at the sprawling Kim Il-sung square, state TV showed.
The parade was the first since last year when one was held for the birth centenary of the North's founder leader, Kim Il-sung.
Since then, the North successfully launched a long-range rocket in December and conducted its third nuclear test in February. Both events drew UN sanctions and triggered a dangerous surge in military tensions on the Korean peninsula that lasted for several months.
At Saturday's parade, Kim and his troops saluted as the blue, white and red national flag and the yellow and red flag of the ruling Workers' Party were raised.
"Let's fight, fight, fight... for our republic!" soldiers chanted.
'Fend off attacks'
Choe Ryong-hae, the North's highest military official, said in a speech that "the proud and victorious history" created by the North's founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il had passed down to "our great general Kim Jong-un" in a third generation succession.
"The respected leader Kim Jong-un has upgraded our military and taken the solidarity among our people to a whole new level", Choe said. "Peaceful environment is more important than anything else for our country that strives to achieve economic construction and improvement of the lives of people".
He said, however, North Korea haD to be ready for war if it wanted peace.
"All servicemen and people should... strengthen our defence and be firmly prepared to fend off any attacks from the outside."
China's Vice President Li Yuanchao, heading the Chinese delegation invited for the anniversary celebrations, joined Kim on the podium.
China's relationship with North Korea - famously described by Mao Zedong as being as close as "lips and teeth" - was forged in the 1950-53 Korean war which China entered to prevent the North's total defeat.
But it has weakened significantly over the years, as China's economic transformation has distanced it from the ideological rigidity of the dynastic Kim regime across the border.
In line with UN sanctions, Beijing has moved to restrict Pyongyang's financial operations in China which the international community says are the major conduit for funding its nuclear weapons programme.
During talks on Wednesday, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said Li told Kim that Beijing would push for a resumption of talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.