North Korea marks Kim Jong-il death amid purge tensions

North Korean mourner: "I miss our dear leader so much"

North Korea is marking the second anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong-il, days after the dramatic purge of a top-level official.

Images from Pyongyang showed ranks of thousands of officials at a ceremony to commemorate Mr Kim.

His son, Kim Jong-un, inherited the leadership after his death in 2011.

Last week, he presided over the execution of Chang Song-thaek, his uncle and a powerful figure seen by outside observers as his mentor.

Mr Chang was accused of multiple crimes, state media said, including forming a power base and attempting to overthrow the state.

Meanwhile, North Korea has cleared much of the archive on the website of the state news agency and main party newspaper - amid concern it is trying to manipulate the historical record.

A search for Chang Song-thaek brought up only one article in which he is vilified as a traitor and counter-revolutionary.

Almost all articles published before October this year have disappeared from the archives.

Mr Chang's image has already been edited out of a documentary that has been shown frequently on North Korea's state television network.

On Tuesday, residents laid flowers at monuments to both Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung, North Korea's first leader.

This picture taken by North Korea's KCNA on 16 December 2013 shows people offering flower bouquets before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il to mark the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death Images from Pyongyang showed people paying tribute to the late Kim Jong-il and his father and founding leader of North Korea Kim Il-sung
North Koreans walk near the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il The father (left) and son ruled North Korea for more than six decades
North Koreans marking two years since the death of Kim Jong-il, 17 December 2013 Pyongyang residents are seen here in front of a mosaic monument of Kim Jong-il
In this image taken from video, North Korean military officials attend an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang on 17 December 2013 Thousands of high-level officials attended a ceremony in Pyongyang
Kim Jong-un at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the death of his father Kim Jong-un clapped but listened to the eulogies for his father with downcast eyes

Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea for almost two decades, died on 17 December 2011.

North Korean media review

North Korean media have been using the anniversary to portray the country's ruling elite as being united around leader Kim Jong-un following the execution of his uncle, Chang Song-thaek.

Among other crimes, Chang was found guilty of forming his own power base.

State media continue to describe Kim Jong-un as the "supreme commander" and "beloved leader". But it is their insistence on describing him as the "unitary centre of unity" that is particularly noticeable.

The official news agency, KCNA, says the armed forces hold Kim Jong-un in "high esteem as the unitary centre of unity and leadership" and pledge to "protect him with their lives".

The phrase was repeated by Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state, and Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Korean Workers' Party.

Another element being stressed by the media is the leader's descent from state founder Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

"The Mount Paektu bloodline is and should be the North's eternal bloodline," says Rodong Sinmun.

Pyongyang's propaganda describes Mount Paektu as the "sacred birthplace" of Kim Jong-il.

Compiled by BBC Monitoring

On Tuesday, his third son and chosen successor Kim Jong-un attended a ceremony to remember his father.

The young leader wore a sombre expression, the BBC's Lucy Williamson reports from Seoul.

She says the ceremony, in a large hall, was as much about the current leader as the old one.

Kim Jong-un sat on the podium flanked by North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and the head of the army.

"All our people and soldiers have struggled and achieved victory for the past two years by holding our great leader [Kim Jong-il] in high esteem," Kim Yong-nam said in his speech.

On Monday, thousands of North Korean soldiers lined up in front of the state mausoleum to pledge their allegiance to Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean president, meanwhile, held a meeting of top security officials, warning of possible "provocations" from North Korea in the wake of the purge of Mr Chang and his aides.

His sudden fall from grace and rapid execution have sparked fears of instability inside North Korea.

Mr Chang, who was married to the elder Mr Kim's sister, was thought to have facilitated the transfer of power from father to son two years ago.

It was also widely believed that he was highly influential behind the scenes.

North Korea's secretive 'first family'
INTERACTIVE
  • Kim Jong-il (d)

    × Kim Jong-il

    Kim Jong-il was one of the most secretive leaders in the world.Tales from dissidents and past aides created an image of an irrational, power-hungry man who allowed his people to starve while he enjoyed dancing girls and cognac.

    But a different picture was painted by Sung Hae-rim, the sister of one of his former partners in her memoir, The Wisteria House.

    She describes a devoted father and a sensitive, charismatic individual, although she admits even those closest to him were fearful of him.

    North Korean media depicted him as a national hero, whose birth to the country's founder, Kim Il-sung, was marked by a double rainbow and a bright star.

  • Kim Kyung-hee

    × Kim Kyung-hee

    The youngest sister of the late Kim Jong-il and the wife of the man formerly regarded as the second most powerful figure in North Korea, Chang Song-thaek.

    She has held a wide range of important Workers' Party positions including being a member of the all-powerful Central Committee.

    Her promotion to four-star general made Kim Kyung-hee the first North Korean woman ever to achieve such status.

    Analysts say Kim Kyung-hee and her husband were seen as mentors for the new leader Kim Jong-un when he came to power in 2011. But news of her husband's execution in December 2013 suggests the most significant upheaval in North Korea's leadership since Mr Kim succeeded his father.

  • Chang Song-thaek (d)

    × Chang Song-taek

    Chang Song-thaek was married to Kim Kyung-hee, the younger sister of the late Kim Jong-il. When the inexperienced Kim Jong-un became the new leader in 2011, the couple were widely thought to be acting as his mentors.

    In December 2013, the powerful uncle - who sat on the country's top military body - was denounced by the state-run news agency for corruption. Images were shown of him being removed from a Politburo meeting by uniformed guards. He was then executed.

    Mr Chang's execution is the biggest upheaval in North Korea's leadership since Mr Kim succeeded his father.

  • Kim Jong-nam

    × Kim Jong-nam

    Kim Jong-nam, 39, is Kim Jong-il's eldest son.

    Sung Hae-rang, the sister of Kim Jong-nam's deceased mother Sung Hae-rim, has written in her memoir that Kim Jong-il was extremely fond of Kim Jong-nam and was pained to be away from him. Like his half-brothers, Kim Jong-nam studied at an international school in Switzerland.

    His chances of succession appeared to be ruined when, in 2001, Japanese officials caught him trying to sneak into Japan using a false passport. He told officials that he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

    Some analysts argued that he may have been forgiven by his father, as there is precedent for the regime reinstating disgraced figures after a period of atonement. Confucian tradition also favours the oldest son.

    But in a rare interview while on a trip to China last year, Kim Jong-nam said he had "no interest" in succeeding his father.

  • Kim Sul-song

    ×

    Kim Sul-song, 36, is Kim Jong-il's daughter born to his first wife, Kim Young-sook.

    Reports say she has worked in the country's propaganda department, with responsibility for literary affairs.

    One South Korean report said she had also served as her father's secretary.

  • Kim Jong-chul

    × Kim Jong-chul

    Kim Jong-chul, 29, studied at an international school in Switzerland. He works in the WKP propaganda department.

    His mother, Ko Yong-hui, is said to have been the North Korean leader's favourite consort.

    However, Kenji Fujimoto, the pseudonym of a Japanese sushi chef who spent 13 years cooking for Kim Jong-il, has written that the leader considered his second son "no good because he is like a little girl".

  • Kim Jong-un

    × Kim Jong-un

    Kim Jong-un, the second son of Kim Jong-il and his late wife Ko Yong-hui, was anointed "the great successor" by Pyongyang.

    Like his older brothers, he is thought to have been educated abroad.

    A Japanese sushi chef who worked for Kim Jong-il for 13 years up to 2001 said that he "resembled his father in every way, including his physical frame".

    Speculation that he was being groomed to succeed his father had been rife for years.

    Since taking power, he has presided over a long-range missile test, North Korea's third nuclear test and most recently the execution of his uncle, Chang Song-thaek.

  • Ri Sol-ju

    × Ri Sol-ju

    Ri Sol-ju was introduced as Kim Jong-un's wife in state media reports about the opening of an amusement park in July 2012.

    Reports simply said he attended the event with his wife, "Comrade Ri Sol-ju".

    Little more is known about Ri Sol-Ju, although there has been much speculation about her background since pictures first emerged of Kim Jong-un with an unidentified woman. There is a North Korean singer of the same name, but she is not now thought to be the same person.

    State media did not mention when the couple got married.

  • Kim Han-sol

    × Kim Han-sol

    The grandson of Kim Jong-il and nephew of leader Kim Jong-un has said he wants to "make things better" for the people of his country.

    Kim Han-sol, 17, spoke of his dreams of reunification of the two Koreas in an television interview in Bosnia, where he is studying. Kim Han-sol said he had never met his grandfather or uncle.

    He described an isolated childhood spent mostly in Macau and China, after his birth in Pyongyang in 1995. In the future, he said he pictured himself going to university and then ''volunteering somewhere''.

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