N Korea marks anniversary with big military parade

The military parade was staged to mark the 63rd anniversary of North Korea`s founding.

Pyongyang: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and his son and heir apparent appeared at a military parade staged to mark the 63rd anniversary of the country`s founding, official media reported.

Kim and his youngest son Jong-Un on Friday clapped from the reviewing stand as motorised units including howitzers, anti-aircraft guns and multiple launch rocket systems rumbled past, according to North Korean TV footage.

The parade in Pyongyang`s vast Kim Il-Sung Square was staged by the Worker-Peasant Red Guards, the communist state`s second-tier reserve force, the official news agency said.

The reservists warmly saluted the leader "who has built up the Worker-Peasant Red Guards into invincible combat ranks, turning the whole country into an invulnerable fortress", it said.

A cheering crowd which packed the square displayed characters spelling out "Kim Il-Sung", "Kim Jong-Il" and "Glory" and waved flags, the agency reported.

At the end of the parade, Kim Jong-Il -- who succeeded his late father and founding president Kim Il-Sung -- came out on the balcony and warmly acknowledged the cheers, it said.

In South Korea about 100 activists, mostly refugees from North Korea, marked the day by floating 300,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets slung under gas-filled balloons across the heavily fortified border.

Early Friday in North Korea, father and son visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace where Kim Il-Sung`s embalmed body has been preserved in a glass coffin since his death in 1994. He remains "eternal president".

The junior Kim`s name came ahead of all others as the news agency released the line-up of party or military officials who accompanied the leader in paying tribute.

The young protégé, believed to be in his late 20s, was made a general and given senior posts in the ruling communist party in September last year, confirming his status as leader-in-waiting.

The 69-year-old leader, who suffered a stroke in August 2008, has been grooming his Swiss-educated son as eventual successor in an attempt to extend the family dynasty into a third generation.

Activists in the South poured scorn on the regime. "Let`s fight against dictatorship like Libyan rebels," some leaflets read.

The balloons also carried hundreds of DVDs and USD 1 bills, an incentive for North Koreans to pick up the leaflets despite fears of punishment.

Bureau Report