We’ve been taken to see the Supreme leader twice in two days. Today to the stadium named after his Grandfather Kim Il Sung. It seats 50,000, no football today.
The ‘teams’ on the pitch were all in uniforms, from various armed forces units. A show of support for the young leader Kim Jung Un, the TV pictures broadcast across this secretive state arranged to show that he still has the military on his side. Damage limitation North Korean style.
Angus Walker reports from North Korea as the nation celebrates the 100th birthday of its first leader, Kim il-Sung. His grandson, the current leader, led a tribute attended by 50,000 soldiers and civilians, trying to put this week's failed rocket launch and international condemnation behind them.
Still no images of yesterday’s rocket launch, the failure to put a rocket into space is being airbrushed out of this country’s often rewritten history.
Today President Obama has said that the North Korean leadership should feed its people rather than spend “tens of millions of dollars” on rockets that “don’t work”.
The latest assessments from the World Food Programme suggest 3.5 million people are short of food in this country. Thousands of children have been identified as suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The state ration is down to around one bowl of corn a day, that’s 150 calories, which if that’s all children under two get to eat, they’ll end up with brain damage.
In the showcase capital people look well fed; they’re mostly the elite. New flats have sprung up across the city, it’s more brightly lit than when I was last here. There are more cars on the roads. I spoke to two diplomats today who told me they’d been amazed by the rapid construction of new buildings. However, we cannot see what life is like for those outside the capital. We have been told not to leave this hotel - where the 'all you can eat buffets' feed the hundreds of reporters and attendees at a Friendship Festival.
Back in the stadium, the crowd roared his name, waves of cheers played over the PA. Kim Jung Un waved back. An hour of speeches began, praise for the world’s only Communist dynasty. By now the people had been sitting in their hard seats in the stands for hours. It’s a marvel of crowd control. The doors were locked, armed guards stationed in the walkways.
The main speech extolled the many virtues of Kim Il Sung, the founding father of North Korea. His revolutionary cause, known as Juche, or state self sufficiency as we might describe it, forms the single guiding philosophy of this country which suits a nation largely cut off from the rest of the world.
Kim Jong Un was described as “the centre of unity, centre of the leadership of our Party and revolution and the banner of all victories and glories”.
Although he’s never spoken in public, his father only spoke once, when he leant into the microphone at a rally and called on the people to support the army.
Kim Jung Un is quoted in a speech delivered today as follows: “ It is the unshakable will of our party to carry out the instructions of the great comrade Kim Jong Il unconditionally and without an inch of deviation and to invariably follow the road of independence....the road of socialism, pioneered by President Kim Il Sung and led by General Kim Jong Il.”
Like father, like son.
Through the window here in the luxury hotel, that all foreign reporters have been told to stay in, I can hear the military bands and piped cheers of the crowds. Rehearsals for tomorrow’s massive military parade on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, this country’s Eternal President.
Another chance for Kim Jung Un to try to raise his standing and recover a reputation damaged early in his reign as supreme leader.