Kim Gives 1st Public Speech

Great spectacle designed to show military might, support of new leader
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2012 9:43 AM CDT
Kim Gives 1st Public Speech
Kim Jong Un reviews a military parade from a balcony in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, to celebrate the 100th birthday of his grandfather on Sunday, April 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Li)

That whole rocket launch may not have worked out so well, but such minor inconveniences didn't stop North Korea from putting on a display of pomp for the occasion of founder Kim Il Sung 100th birthday that belied the nation's enduring poverty. Kim Jong Un himself surprised the throngs gathered in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square by addressing his nation publicly for the first time, notes the AP. "Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolized by imperialists, and the era of enemies using atomic bombs to threaten and blackmail us is forever over," Kim said in a 20-minute speech that underscored his commitment to continuing Korea's "military first" policy. To wit, Pyongyang unveiled what it says is a new long-range missile at the celebration's finale.

The celebration was rife with symbolism, notes the BBC, and appeared designed to highlight the younger Kim's solidarity with the nation's military, as well as give the North its first good look at the young leader. "He demonstrated that he can speak in public fairly well," says one Korea expert, who called the speech a good first impression. Kim said his "first, second, and third" priorities were the military, but also vowed to improve the lives of his people via economic development. He called the nation "Kim Il Sung's Korea," a reference experts think may indicate a rebirth of sorts. Check out video footage of the massive military parade here. (Read more Kim Il Sung stories.)

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