'Chairman Kim' presides over mass parade in Pyongyang
Pyongyang, May 10: North Korea kicked off a massive parade in the centre of Pyongyang on Tuesday to celebrate a just-concluded ruling party congress that was seen as a formal coronation for supreme leader Kim Jong-Un.
Kim presided over the event from a viewing platform overlooking the giant Kim Il-Sung square in the heart of the capital, which hundreds of thousands of participants turned into a sea of pink by waving floral bouquets over their heads as the young leader arrived.
Nuclear-armed North Korea regularly holds mass military parades to celebrate key dates and show off its latest military hardware, including long-range ballistic missiles that are still under development.
Tuesday's events were a civilian affair, but the giant floats that moved under the viewing platform carried military themes, showing cardboard mock-ups of missiles and space-launch vehicles. North Korea followed its last nuclear test in January with a satellite launch that was widely condemned as a disguised ballistic missile test.
The country's nominal head of state, Kim Yong-Nam, addressed the parade before it began, praising Kim Jong-Un and congratulating him on his election the day before as chairman of the Workers' party of Korea.
"The election... showed the absolute trust... of our military and people in the great leader Kim Jong-Un," Kim said. He called on the entire country to "single-mindedly and faithfully carry through the ideology and guidance of dear leader Kim Jong-Un".
The four-day party congress, which ended on Monday, marked the first such gathering of the party's top decision-making body in more than 35 years.
The event gave the 33-year-old Kim, who came to power following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in 2011, a podium to secure his status as supreme leader and rightful inheritor of the one-party state founded by his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung.
The congress formally endorsed Kim Jong-Un's legacy "byungjin" doctrine of building an effective nuclear arsenal in tandem with economic development. Today's parade saw wave after wave of massed marchers, waving pink paper flowers, balloons of various colours and red party flags, and chanting "Mansei (Long Live)!" in unison.
Some carried giant banners reading "Mansei for comrade Kim Jong-Un, the top leader of our party and people!," and "Glory to our beloved leader!"