PYONGYANG - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivered his first ever public speech on Sunday at a major military parade in Pyongyang to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung.
The commemorations came just two days after a satellite launch timed to mark the centenary fizzled out embarrassingly when the rocket apparently exploded within minutes of blastoff and plunged into the sea.
The celebratory performances by civilians and troops nonetheless went ahead in a vast square named after the country's founder, Kim Jong-Un's grandfather.
Live TV footage showed thousands of goose-stepping soldiers carrying red flags march into the large Kim Il-Sung Square to the sound of drumbeats.
"I offer the purest respect and the greatest honour to great comrades Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il," Jong-Un said in what was described by Pyongyang's state TV as the first ever public speech by the young leader.
Jong-Un, clad in a dark Mao suit, fidgeted as he read from a prepared statement from a viewing stand overlooking tens of thousands of troops taking part in the massive parade.
He read quickly in a youthful voice, rarely looking up from the prepared text of the speech before a bank of microphones.
"I express my greetings to our compatriots in South Korea and across the world who dedicate themselves to reunification and the prosperity of the nations," he told cheering crowds.
"Let's move on toward our final victory!" he said, pointing his finger ahead to cheering troops who repeatedly chanted "Mansei! (long life)".
"We have just heard for the first time his friendly and benevolent voice in his first-ever historic speech in front of the people," a male TV commentator said of Kim's 20-minute-long speech.
"We will follow him wherever his friendly voice is heard," he said. "We will boast to the world the great might of Kim Il-Sung Korea under the respected comrade Kim Jong-Un's leadership!"