x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Late North Korea leader Kim Jong-il awarded 'Generalissimo'

North Korea awarded its highest title to late leader Kim Jong-il on the eve of his 70th birthday.

SEOUL // North Korea awarded its highest title to late leader Kim Jong-il, the eve of his 70th birthday.

The announcement that Kim had been posthumously appointed "Generalissimo" came a day after a statue of him was unveiled in Pyongyang, showing him on horseback alongside his own father and national founder Kim Il-sung.

The North also promoted 23 senior military officers on the orders of Kim Jong-il's young son and successor Kim Jong-un, who has been declared supreme commander of the 1.2 million-strong military as well as national leader.

The official news agency praised Kim's record in elevating the North into "a nuclear state" that could also produce and launch satellites - a reference to its controversial missile programme.

North Korean and US officials will meet in Beijing next week for talks aimed at reviving six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations.

The North has declared today, his birthday, "The Day of the Shining Star".

Commemorative stamps and coins have been produced and Pyongyang is staging a festival of Kimjongilia, a hybrid red begonia.

An inscription 120 metres wide has been carved on a rock face in the southwestern province of South Pyongan to mark the occasion.

More than 100 people were awarded a new medal, the Order of Kim Jong-il, for services in building a "thriving socialist nation" and for increasing defence capabilities.