Massed ranks of military and party leaders pledged complete loyalty to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday on the second anniversary of his father’s death, at a time of growing concern over the regime’s stability.
The vows of obedience, at an elaborate gathering in Pyongyang honoring Kim’s father and former leader Kim Jong-il, followed the shock execution last week of the young leader’s uncle and one-time political mentor, Jang Song-thaek.
Jang’s purge raised questions about factional infighting at the top of the Pyongyang hierarchy, prompting both Seoul and Washington to warn of possible provocative acts by the nuclear-armed North.
State television showed tens of thousands of military and party officials sitting stony-faced in pin-drop silence for several minutes, before rising to greet Kim Jong-un with thunderous applause as he took his place on the leadership podium.
“We should be warriors to safeguard the party center with our lives... with the conviction that we know no one but the great comrade Kim Jong-un,” ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, said in an opening address.
He added that the country had made “great strides” in the two years since Kim Jong-un took over after his father’s death.
Under Kim Jong-un’s leadership, North Korea has successfully placed a satellite in orbit and in February this year conducted its third — and most powerful — nuclear test.
The mass meeting also heard a keynote address by top military leader Choe Ryong-hae, who some analysts believe had a hand in the ousting and execution of Jang — long seen as the nation’s unofficial No. 2.
The military will support “our supreme commander, under any storms and hardships,” said Choe, a close Kim Jong-un confidant who holds the military rank of vice marshal and is director of the Korean People’s Army’s general political department.
“We will share the fate with our respected supreme commander by living and dying with him until the very last moment,” he said, while firing off a warning at rival South Korea. “If the enemies drop a single drop of fire on our motherland, our soldiers will immediately storm out to wipe out all the invaders and achieve unification.”
There was no sign on the leadership podium of Kim Jong-un’s aunt and Jang’s widow, Kim Kyong-hui — a major political player in her own right who holds the military rank of four-star general.
The Korean Central News Agency said Kim Jong-un had visited his father’s mausoleum on Monday, in the company of his wife Ri Sol-ju. Ri has not been seen since October, prompting speculation she may also have fallen out of favor.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient
A Taiwanese bird protection group yesterday said that it has been kicked out of BirdLife International — a global conservation partnership — after it refused to sign a statement saying it would never advocate independence. The Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation said that BirdLife International last week voted to remove it, ending a partnership that had been in place since 1996. Over the past 20 years, the federation has changed its English name three times to satisfy BirdLife International, and recently the international group demanded that it change its Chinese name and sign a statement that it is “formally committing to not