N Korean troops pledge loyalty

December 17, 2013 - 8:12:50 am

S Korean President Park Geun-hye (second left) attends a meeting with secretaries at the Blue House yesterday. 

SEOUL:  Tens of thousands of North Korean troops pledged their loyalty to leader Kim Jong-Un yesterday as Seoul put its forces on alert for “reckless provocations” after its communist rival staged a political purge.

The mass rally in Pyongyang came ahead of today’s second anniversary of the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-Il, whose sudden demise thrust his young son to the helm of the secretive state.

Kim has been making efforts to demonstrate his firm grip on power following the shock execution Thursday of his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, prompting both Seoul and Washington to warn that vigilance is needed against any surprises by the nuclear-armed regime.

Photos from state media showed tens of thousands of troops carrying red flags marching in a large square in front of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the spiritual heart of the regime which houses the embalmed bodies of Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung.

Some soldiers held flags bearing portraits of founding father Kim Il-Sung while others carried a giant banner urging all troops to hold his grandson Kim Jong-Un in “high esteem as the party centre.” 

Public support from the military is likely even more important following the execution of Jang, a veteran fixer and political eminence grise who was seen as playing a key role in bolstering the leadership of the young and inexperienced Kim.

“Given the latest development in the North, it is uncertain to what directions its political situations would evolve,” South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said in a meeting with advisors yesterday.

“We also can’t rule out the possibility of contingencies such as reckless provocations,” she said, urging the military to step up vigilance near the heavily fortified border with the North.


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