New North Korean leader Kim speaks publicly for first time

April 15, 2012

By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post

SEOUL — New North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, telling tens of thousands at a parade in Pyongyang that he’d honor the legacy of his father and grandfather and prioritize the country’s military strength.

Speaking from a balcony overlooking a broad public square packed with soldiers and citizens, Kim recited the points emphasized in Pyongyang’s propaganda, and underlined the need for a mighty military prepared for war.

“Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolized by imperialists,” Kim said, according to a translation by the Associated Press.

The speech itself was a surprise, marking a stark reversal from the style of late leader Kim Jong Il, whose voice was heard publicly only once by Koreans — and for a matter of seconds — when he shouted “Glory to the heroic Korean People’s Army” at a military parade in 1992.

Kim’s speech Sunday morning lasted for roughly 20 minutes. He spoke assuredly, but fixed his eyes on his notes. Seven black microphones fanned before the podium. His voice low and gravely, Kim wore a dark Mao suit, and told citizens they should give thanks for grandfather Kim Il Sung, the national founder.

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