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Smiling and saluting, North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, has reviewed a parade of thousands of soldiers who vowed to protect him with their lives as the communist country commemorated the 70th birthday of his late father, Kim Jong-il.

Kim Jong-un, wearing a dark Mao-style suit and a solemn expression, bowed deeply before a large portrait of his smiling father in Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, the capital, on Thursday.

Hundreds of senior officials, military leaders and citizens followed to pay their respects.

Outside the palace, a large crowd of North Korean soldiers lined up in neat rows, listening to speeches praising the Kim family.

Later Kim Jong-un and other officials watched as soldiers marched by, followed by military jeeps and lorries carrying artillery guns and rocket launchers.

Fireworks exploded, military music boomed and people waved artificial pink and red flowers.

In the months since Kim Jong-il died, portraits and sculptures praising Kim Jong-un as a wise and brave leader have sprung up across North Korea.

This week there has been no shortage of tributes, with Kim Jong-il's birthday officially designated as Day of the Shining Star, Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports.

He has also been posthumously elevated to the honorary post of Generalissimo, only the second person in the country to be given that title.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies