Massive military parade marks birth centennial of DPRK founder
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's leader Kim Jong-un made his first televised speech on Sunday in a gesture that analysts said showcased "the confidence of the new leadership".
He spoke as the country held its largest military parade to mark the centenary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung, Jong-un's grandfather.
A large new missile, what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile according to media reports, was the highlight of the parade.
Dressed in a dark suit, Kim Jong-un appeared confident and calm as he read from notes from a viewing stand overlooking tens of thousands of troops taking part in the massive parade in Pyongyang's main square.
Analysts said the rare public speech by a DPRK leader and the military parade aimed to boost confidence among people in the DPRK and cement the new leadership led by the young Kim.
During the 20-minute speech, he lauded his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and his father, Kim Jong-il, as the "founder and the builder of our revolutionary armed forces".
He also made it clear that the military will continue to have a dominant role in the country, following the "military first" policy, as it had under his father.
Kim, in his late 20s, became leader of the country with a population of 23 million after the death of former leader Kim Jong-il in December.
"I express my greetings to our compatriots ... who dedicate themselves to reunification and prosperity," he told cheering crowds.
"Let's move on toward our final victory!" he said, pointing his finger ahead to cheering troops who repeatedly chanted "Long life!" and "Safeguard Kim Jong-un until death!"
The speech itself was a surprise to many in the DPRK.
"I feel proud to hear our leader make such an encouraging speech. I believe he will lead the party, the state and the army to greater achievements," said Go Sun-young, a Pyongyang resident.
The late leader Kim Jong-il seldom spoke when he presided over similar events, and it is also the first time Kim spoke publicly.
Kim then watched as row upon row of infantry marched smartly past, saluting him.
They were followed by tanks, heavy artillery and a wide array of increasingly large truck-mounted missiles.
Kim smiled and chatted, occasionally, with high-ranking officials standing next to him.
Five fighter jets, trailing plumes of colored smoke, flew over.
Liu Jiangyong, deputy dean of the institute of modern international relations at Tsinghua University, said the parade "gives young Kim a great opportunity to mark the start of a new era under the new leadership".
The young Kim was officially named first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party and first chairman of the National Defense Commission last week.
Liu said Kim's speech is to show that he has won unanimous support for his leadership and "inspire confidence among the DPRK people".
According to the Associated Press, during the military parade the DPRK unveiled what appeared to be a new missile.
Military analysts in Japan and the Republic of Korea said further examination would be required before confirming if it was an intercontinental ballistic missile that the DPRK has reportedly been working on for some time.
Liu said it is a matter of urgency for the DPRK to strengthen its national cohesion and boost people's confidence after the failure of the DPRK's launch of a satellite on Friday, "and that is also the aim of this parade".