Kim Jong-il remembered across North Korea

Memorial of "Dear Leader" is closely watched for signs of dissent among country's leaders.

    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.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.