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Limping N. Korean leader presides over memorial for grandfather

AFP-JIJI

A visibly limping Kim Jong Un presided over an official memorial in Pyongyang on Tuesday for the 20th anniversary of the death of his grandfather and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung.

The meeting, broadcast live on North Korean state TV, began as Kim walked into a vast conference hall packed with thousands of party and military officials who rose to applaud the young leader.

Kim appeared to be limping slightly as he walked to his seat, and the cameras cut away as he left the memorial, which lasted a little more than 30 minutes. The current North Korean leader did not address the meeting.

The reason for the limp was not apparent. Kim has recently concluded a series of visit to front-line military installations on the maritime border with South Korea.

The leadership podium was set against a backdrop of a red flag surrounding the giant portrait of a smiling Kim Il Sung.

The eulogy was read by North Korea’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, who hailed the elder Kim as the “greatest leader in human history” and offered a long list of his accomplishments, punctuated by lengthy and regular applause.

“Thanks to the powerful army created by the great leader Kim Il Sung, we have successfully overcome all challenges,” he said.

Kim also called for the entire country to “unite under the respected leadership” of Kim Jong Un to build a prosperous future.

Kim Il Sung led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death on July 8, 1994.

He was succeeded by son Kim Jong Il, who also ruled until his death in December 2011, when power was transferred to his son and current leader, Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un bears a striking physical resemblance to his grandfather, which he has underlined with his style of dress and haircut.

Like Kim Il Sung, he does not shy away from public speeches and is regularly seen hugging and posing for photos with soldiers.

Kim Jong Il was far more aloof, and only spoke once at a major public event during his 17 years in power.