North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivered his first public speech on Sunday after a massive military parade marking the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung. Kim read monotonously for 20 minutes in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 people.
The speech was peppered with references to his father Kim Jong-il's "songun" or military-first doctrine. He said the time when nuclear arms could be used to threaten his country was "forever gone" and called for strengthening the songun doctrine by placing the "first, second and third" priority on military might. "The self-reliance of the nation is more valuable" than peace, he added.
A government official here said Kim Jong-un appeared to be emulating his grandfather Kim Il-sung, who used to deliver a speech to North Koreans every New Year's Day. Kim Jong-il, by contrast, rarely spoke publicly.
Various props were mobilized during the parade to conjure up images of the Kim Il-sung era, which was a comparative heyday for the impoverished country. Top brass were decked out in white uniforms reminiscent of the nation founder's attire in the 1950, and the columns of troops and mounted cavalry were dressed in uniforms worn during partisan combat against Japanese colonial forces.
The military-first ideology was symbolized by an intercontinental ballistic missile that was unveiled for the first time at the parade.
Kim began his speech with the words, "Bold soldiers of the People's Army, Navy, Air Force and Strategic Rocket Force." It was the first time the expression "strategic rocket force" has cropped up, showing, according to a South Korean intelligence official said, that North Korea created a fourth military branch that handles nuclear weapons and missiles. "Kim Jong-un is likely to focus even more on developing nuclear weapons and missiles than his father did," the official added.