Connect to share and comment

North Korea calls for "human shields" to defend Kim Jong Un

In a New Year's message published by state media, North Korea called for the army and people to act as "human shields," and defend new leader Kim Jong Un to the death.

North korea human shields 1 1 2012Enlarge
Mourners react as a car carrying Kim Jong Il's body passes by during the funeral procession in Pyongyang. In a New Year message, North Korea called on the country to defend the new leader, Kim Jong Un, to the death, and to be prepared to act as "human shields" to protect him. (KYODO NEWS/AFP/Getty Images)

In a New Year's message, North Korea called on its people to act as "human shields" to protect new leader Kim Jong Un, and to defend him to the death.

The editorial published by state media said Kim Jong Un is the country's legitimate ruler, "precisely" like his father Kim Jong Il, who died Dec. 17 after having ruled the isolated nation since 1994, after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung. 

Kim Jong Un on Friday was appointed supreme commander of the country's 1.2 million-strong armed forces.

The 5,000-word editorial called on "the whole Party, the entire army and all the people" to "possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending him unto death."

"Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of our Party and our people, is the banner of victory and glory of Songun (military-first) Korea and the eternal center of its unity," the message said. 

More from GlobalPost: North Korea declares Kim Jong Un 'supreme leader'

The traditional New Year's Day message will be "scrutinized by officials and analysts in the region as it sheds light on the country's New Year's policy goals," the BBC reported.

The "burning issue" of food shortages is highlighted in the editorial, and described as a problem the nation's leaders must work to solve.

Reuters noted that North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages and relies heavily on outside food aid to feed its people. The United Nations has said that nearly three million of the country's 24 million population will require food assistance in 2012.

But the editorial made no mention of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, a prominent topic in previous New Year's Day editorials, the BBC said.

More from GlobalPost: Will North Korea change for the better?

The message described Kim Jong Il's death as "the greatest loss our nation had suffered in its 5 000-year-long history and the bitterest grief our Party and people had experienced."

"Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding," it said. 

"We must increase our political and ideological might, the might of our unity, to the maximum."

More from GlobalPost: North Korea holds funeral for Kim Jong Il (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120101/north-korea-human-shields-kim-jong-un-new-year-message