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North Korea holds memorial service for former leader, Kim Jong-il

A year after the death of Kim Jong-il, North Korean leaders have dedicated last week's successful rocket launch to its Dear Leader and his sucessor Kim Jong Un.

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This picture taken on December 15, 2012 shows a group of Chinese visitors at a statue of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in the North Korean border town of Siniuju, across from China's northeastern city of Dandong. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

A year after the death of Kim Jong-il, North Korean leaders have dedicated last week's successful rocket launch to its Dear Leader and his sucessor Kim Jong Un.

At a somber memorial service Sunday, Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, credited Kim Jong Il with building Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, the Associated Press reported.

Kim called the rocket launch on Wednesday — ostensibly to put a satellite into orbit — a "shining victory," the AP wrote, suggestive of the promise that lies ahead with his son in power.

He also said Kim Jong-il had been the guiding force behind the North's recent rocket launch.

State-run media broadcast a 70-minute memorial service for Kim, attended by Kim Jong-un along with top political, government and military officials.

North Koreans had begun paying their respects on Saturday, streaming past a bronze statue of Kim on Mansu Hill, and visiting Kim-il Sung Square to lay white mourning flowers.

At the memorial service at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, where the leaders gathered, a military band played the "Song of General Kim Jong-il." A massive portrait of Kim hung above the stage.

CNN pointed out that Pyongyang's launch of the long-range Unha-3 rocket was in defiance of a UN ban on developing nuclear- and missile-related technology.

The West suspects the launch was to test ballistic missile technology that could one day be used to fire a nuclear warhead.

Leaders were already nervous at the prospect of Kim Jong Un taking power, CNN wrote, given his inexperience. 

Now, CNN wrote, he can stand proud before his people at Monday's anniversary of his father's death.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse wrote that any hope the outside world had of reform under Kim Jong Un has fizzled in the year since he took power. 

Some saw a glimmer of reformist hope in the Swiss-educated heir, while others believed his youth and inexperience would be his undoing and even lead to the collapse of the regime. A year later, he's still very much in power, but the glimmer of economic reform has shown little sign of burning brighter.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/121216/north-korea-missile-nuclear-weapons-kim-jong-il-rocket-pyongyang