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N. Korea displays Kim Jong Il a year after death

By Jean H. Lee

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 6:59 a.m. MST

Speaking outside the mausoleum, renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the military's top political officer, Choe Ryong Hae, said North Korea should be proud of the satellite, calling it "a political event with great significance in the history of Korea and humanity."

Much of the rest of the world, however, was swift in condemning the launch, which was seen by the United States and other nations as a thinly disguised cover for testing missile technology that could someday be used for a nuclear warhead.

The test, which potentially violates a United Nations ban on North Korean missile activity, underlined Kim Jong Un's determination to continue carrying out his father's hardline policies even if they draw international condemnation.

Some outside experts worry that Pyongyang's next move will be to press ahead with a nuclear test in the coming weeks, a step toward building a warhead small enough to be carried by a long-range missile.

Despite inviting further isolation for his impoverished nation and the threat of stiffer sanctions, Kim Jong Un won national prestige and clout by going ahead with the rocket launch.

At a memorial service on Sunday, North Korea's top leadership not only eulogized Kim Jong Il, but also praised his son. Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, called the launch a "shining victory" and an emblem of the promise that lies ahead with Kim Jong Un in power.

The rocket's success also fits neatly into the narrative of Kim Jong Il's death. Even before he died, the father had laid the groundwork for his son to inherit a government focused on science, technology and improving the economy. And his pursuit of nuclear weapons and the policy of putting the military ahead of all other national concerns have also carried into Kim Jong Un's reign.

In a sign of the rocket launch's importance, Kim Jong Un invited the scientists in charge of it to attend the mourning rites in Pyongyang, according to state media.

The reopening of the mausoleum on the anniversary of the leader's death follows tradition. Kumsusan, the palace where his father, Kim Il Sung, served as president, was reopened as a mausoleum on the anniversary of his death in 1994.

Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea. Follow Jean Lee, AP's bureau chief for Pyongyang and Seoul, at www.twitter.com/newsjean.

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