New North Korean leader make military top priority
BY JEAN H. LEE Associated Press
Monday, April 16, 2012
4/16/12 at 5:22 AM
North Korea's new leader addressed his nation and the world for the first time Sunday, vowing to place top priority on his impoverished country's military, which promptly unveiled a new long-range missile.
The speech was the culmination of two weeks of celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, nation's founder Kim Il Sung - festivities that were marred by the failed launch Friday of a rocket that generated international condemnation and cost North Korea a food-aid-for-nuclear-freeze deal with Washington.
Kim Jong Un's speech took North Koreans gathered at Kim Il Sung Square and around televisions across the country by surprise. His father, the late leader Kim Jong Il, addressed the public only once in his lifetime.
Appearing calm and measured as he read the 20-minute speech, Kim Jong Un covered a wide range of topics, from foreign policy to the economy.
His speech, and a military parade that followed, capped the carefully choreographed festivities commemorating Kim Il Sung's birthday, which included a massive fireworks display.
It was the best look yet the outside world has had of the young Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s.
Punctuating Kim's message that the North will continue to pour funds into its military, the parade culminated with the unveiling of a new long-range missile, though it's not clear how powerful or significant the addition to the North Korean arsenal is.
Some analysts suggested it might have been a dummy designed to dupe outside observers.
Although the rocket launch Friday was a huge, costly embarrassment for the new leadership, Kim's address was seen by analysts as an expression of confidence by the young leader and meant to show that he is firmly in control.
His message suggested no significant changes in national policy - the "Military First" strategy has long been at the center of North Korea's decision-making process.
Original Print Headline: N. Korea's leader touts the military
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves from a balcony Sunday at the end of a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate 100 years since the birth of his grandfather and North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung. DAVID GUTTENFELDER / Associated Press