SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – On Thursday, North Korea called on its 1.2 million troops to rally around leader Kim Jong-un and protect him with their lives as the country celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kim’s ascension to the post of Supreme Commander.
The anniversary comes when North Korea is holding a key multi-day political conference where officials are expected to discuss how to overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic and long-standing inactive diplomacy with the United States.
In a lengthy editorial, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper stated that North Korean military commanders and soldiers must become “an impregnable fortress and bulletproof walls, loyally protecting (Kim) with their lives.”
He also called for the creation of a more modernized, advanced military that will be “the reliable guardian of our state and people.” The editorial said that all the troops and people of North Korea must support Kim’s leadership in order to create a powerful socialist country.
North Korea has previously issued similar propaganda statements urging people to rally around Kim during difficult times.
Some experts say Kim was grappling with the toughest moment of his 10-year rule due to the coronavirus pandemic, UN sanctions and his own mismanagement.
On Monday, Kim opened a plenary session of the ruling Labor Party’s Central Committee, at which he reviewed past projects and set policy guidelines for next year.
Over the two days of meetings, Kim identified unspecified strategies for the country’s rural development, and participants discussed next year’s budget and other agendas, according to state media reports.
Observers say North Korea is likely to reveal Kim’s stance on relations with Washington and Seoul, nuclear diplomacy and economic hardship at the end of a plenary session expected later this week.
Despite the current hardships, few outside analysts question Kim’s seizure of power. The post of Supreme Commander in the Korean People’s Army was the first highest position he received following the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011.
The current leader holds many other high-ranking positions, such as General Secretary of the Workers’ Party and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission.