North Korea’s military has elected leader Kim Jong-un as a delegate to the upcoming Workers’ Party conference, the North’s state media reported Tuesday.
The development came amid mounting international pressure on the communist country to call off next month’s rocket launch that Pyongyang claims is designed to put a satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful space program.
South Korea, the United States and other regional powers suspect the rocket launch could be a disguised test of the North’s ballistic missile technology that is banned under a 2009 U.N. resolution.
The Korean People’s Army adopted the unanimous decision during its conference in Pyongyang on Monday, the Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch on Tuesday.
Kim’s election is “the highest honor, the greatest event and the biggest fortune” of the Korean People’s Army, Kim Jong-gak, the first vice-director of the military General Political Bureau, said, according to the dispatch.
The election came weeks before the Workers‘ Party convenes the key conference for an apparent attempt to further consolidate the untested young leader’s grip on power.
In February, the Workers’ Party said the conference is designed to “glorify the sacred revolutionary life and feats” of the country’s late leader Kim Jong-il and “rallied close” around his son and successor, Kim Jong-un.
The young leader has become the supreme commander of the 1.1 million-strong military as he took over the communist country following the death of his father in December.
The North is also scheduled to hold a separate parliamentary session on April 13, the first such meeting since the demise of Kim Jong-il.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un sent a message of thanks to all soldiers and people for expressing profound condolences over his father’s death.
Kim said in the message that he was deeply impressed to see his people fulfill “their noble moral obligation in bitter grief” over the death of his father, the KCNA said in a separate dispatch. (Yonhap News)