The anniversary comes as North Korea holds an important multi-day political conference where officials are expected to discuss how to tackle difficulties brought by the pandemic and long-dormant diplomacy with the United States.
In a lengthy editorial, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said that North Korea’s military leaders and soldiers must become an “impregnable fortress and bulletproof walls in devotional defense (Kim) with their lives.”
It also called for building a more modernized, advanced military that serves as a “reliable guardian of our state and people.” The leader said that all of North Korea’s troops and people must maintain Kim’s leadership in order to establish a powerful socialist country.
North Korea has previously issued similar propaganda-heavy statements urging people to rally behind Kim in difficult times. Some experts say Kim has struggled with the toughest moment in his 10-year rule due to the coronavirus pandemic, UN sanctions and his own poor leadership.
On Monday, Kim opened a plenary session of the Central Committee of the ruling Labor Party to review previous projects and set major policies for next year. At two-day meetings, Kim set unspecified development strategies for the country’s rural development, while participants, according to state media, discussed next year’s budget and other agendas.
Observers say North Korea is likely to reveal Kim’s stance on relations with Washington and Seoul, the deadlocked nuclear diplomacy and the economic difficulties at the end of the plenary session expected later this week.
Despite the current difficulties, few external analysts question Kim’s grip on power. Kim’s top commanding officer in the Korean People’s Army was the first top job he got after his father Kim Jong-Il’s death in 2011. The current leader holds a number of other high-profile positions such as Secretary General of the Labor Party and Chairman of the State Commission.