North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has presided over a major remembrance ceremony on the second anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-il.
The gathering on Tuesday came days after the shock execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle and one-time political mentor, Jang Song-thaek – a purge that raised questions about the stability of the regime in Pyongyang.
A live broadcast on state TV showed Kim entering an auditorium in Pyongyang packed with thousands of top military, party and government officials, and presiding over the gathering.
The meeting began with a speech by North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam.
“It has been two years since the great leader Kim Jong-Il, admired by all our people and soldiers… left us so suddenly,” Kim Yong-nam said, as leader King Jong-un looked on.
“All our people and soldiers have struggled and achieved victory for the past two years by holding our great leader [Kim Jong-il] in high esteem,” he added.
On Monday, thousands of the country’s military gathered before the tomb of Kim Jong-il to pledge loyalty to his succesor and son, Kim Jong-un.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Seoul, said South Korea was watching the ceremony closely.
“I think the real question is, does the death of Jang Song-thaek, in a very public manner, signify an increasing grip of power by Kim Jong-un,” Fawcett said.
The recent political development in North Korea also came as a “big shock” for China, Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the Chinese city of Dangdong, said.
But given the importance of avoiding an economic collapse of North Korea, “it does seem that everyone has decided that it is very much business as usual” at the border with China, our correspondent said, noting the regular flow of trade between the two communist states.
Meanwhile, John Swenson-Wright, a political analyst at Chatham House, told Al Jazeera that the recent execution was “a deliberate attempt” by Kim Jong-un to show that he is firmly in charge of the country.
“The very public way and the very brutal way in which he removed his uncle raises legitimate questions about whether he would be able, in the long term, to maintain that sense of authority,” Wright said.
By removing a member of his family, Kim Jong-un “is challenging the logic of the North Korean state” which is based on family rule, he added.