(PYONGYANG, North Korea) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public speech on Sunday during elaborate ceremonies to honor his late grandfather in which he vowed to place the communist country’s “first, second and third” priorities on military might.
Kim has mostly been seen, but not heard since assuming control of North Korea last December following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
The televised address before thousands gathered in Pyongyang’s main square came just two days after his nation’s attempt to launch a multi-stage rocket into space, despite the strenuous opposition of the U.S. and the international community, ended in abject failure.
Kim made a passing reference to the launch, saying, “[Our] trust is not modern arms, such as rockets and cannons, but rather our beloved military soldiers and commanders.”
Mostly though, Kim promoted North Korea’s “military first” policy that involves pushing ahead with a nuclear weapons program that comes at the expense of virtually everything else, including feeding his nation’s starving masses.
The speech was in marked contrast to his father, who never spoke in public during his reign as North Korea’s supreme leader from 1994 to 2011. Kim Jong Il succeeded his father, Kim Il Sung, whose 100th birthday was marked by Sunday’s festivities.
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