North Korea asks troops for greater loyalty to Kim Jong Un amid 10th anniversary of power

North Korea has issued similar propaganda-heavy statements urging people to rally behind Kim

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North Korea on Thursday urged its 1.2 million troops to unite behind leader Kim Jong Un and defend him with their lives, as the country celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kim’s ascension to supreme commander of the military. 

The anniversary comes as North Korea is holding a key multiday political conference in which officials are expected to discuss how to address difficulties brought by the pandemic and long-dormant diplomacy with the United States. 

In a lengthy editorial, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said that North Korea's military commanders and soldiers must become an "impregnable fortress and bulletproof walls in devotedly defending (Kim) with their lives." 

NORTH KOREA HOLDS POLITICAL CONFERENCE AS KIM MARKS 10 YEARS IN POWER 

In this undated file photo provided by the North Korean government on April 12, 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects an air defense unit in western area, North Korea. 

In this undated file photo provided by the North Korean government on April 12, 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects an air defense unit in western area, North Korea.  (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

It also called for building a more modernized, advanced military that serves as a "reliable guardian of our state and people." The editorial said all of North Korea’s troops and people must uphold Kim’s leadership to establish a powerful socialist country. 

North Korea has previously issued similar propaganda-heavy statements urging people to rally behind Kim in times of difficulties. Some experts say Kim has been grappling with the toughest moment of his 10-year rule due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.N. sanctions and his own mismanagement. 

On Monday, Kim opened a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party to review past projects and determine major policies for next year. In two days of meetings, Kim set unspecified development strategies for the country’s rural development, while participants discussed next year’s budget and other agendas, according to state media. 

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Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, watches an honor guard before his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, watches an honor guard before his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019. ( Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Observers say North Korea will likely disclose Kim’s stances on relations with Washington and Seoul, the deadlocked nuclear diplomacy and the economic hardships at the end of the plenary meeting expected later this week. 

Despite the present difficulties, few outside analysts question Kim’s grip on power. Kim’s supreme commander post at the Korean People’s Army was the first top job he was given after his father, Kim Jong Il’s, death in 2011. The current leader holds a slew of other high-profile positions, such as general secretary of the Workers’ Party and chairman of the State Affairs Commission.