Rocket still centerpiece as NKoreans mourn Kim
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un solemnly reopened the sprawling, granite mausoleum where his father's body lies in state as the nation marked the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death Monday with sadness as well as celebration over last week's successful satellite launch.
Kim Jong Un joined top Workers' Party, military and government officials in a brief ceremony at the renovated Kumsusan mausoleum in Pyongyang's outskirts after being closed to the public since Kim Jong Il's death. The hall bearing Kim Jong Il's body was expected to open to guests on Monday afternoon.
At noon, North Koreans across the country stopped in their tracks to pay tribute to Kim, who died of a heart attack last year after 17 years in power. On one street in Pyongyang, construction workers took off their yellow hard hats and bowed at the waist as sirens wailed across the city for three minutes.
Unlike the dramatic shows of tears and mourning last year, the mood in Pyongyang was decidedly upbeat Monday, less than a week after North Korea successfully sent a satellite named after Kim Jong Il into space.
The controversial launch, widely condemned by the U.S. and other nations that consider it a violation of U.N. bans against missile activity, underlined Kim Jong Un's determination to continue carrying out his father's hardline policies even if they draw sanctions and international condemnation.
The West sees the rocket as a thinly disguised way of carrying out U.N-banned tests of long-range missile technology, which it says not only threatens regional stability but is also a waste of resources when the country is struggling with a chronic food shortage.
Outsiders worry that in upcoming weeks Pyongyang will press ahead with a nuclear test, necessary in the march toward building a warhead small enough to be carried by a long-range missile.
At the mausoleum, renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Choe Ryong Hae, the military's top political officer, said North Korea should be proud of the satellite. He called it a show of strength to the world.
Following tradition, North Korea reopened the mausoleum on the first anniversary of the leader's death and was expected to present Kim's body lying in state later Monday. Kumsusan, the palace where his father, Kim Il Sung, served as president, was reopened as a mausoleum on the first anniversary of his death in 1994.
Lined with snow-tinged firs, the plaza has been turned into a park at Kim Jong Un's orders and his father's portrait installed on the fašade alongside that of Kim Il Sung.
At a memorial service on Sunday, North Korea's top leadership eulogized Kim Jong Il and praised his son, who gained national prestige and clout by going ahead with the rocket launch.
Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, credited Kim Jong Il with building Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, and called the satellite launch a "shining victory" and an emblem of the promise that lies ahead with his son in power.
Choe warned that the army was prepared to defend the country's sovereignty.
Wednesday's launch was North Korea's second attempt in eight months to fulfill Kim Jong Il's 14-year quest to put a satellite into space. International experts confirmed that a satellite succeeded in reaching space.
Criticism of the launch was swift. The United States called it a covert test of missile technology, and U.N. Security Council condemned the launch as a violation of resolutions barring Pyongyang from developing its nuclear and missile programs.
However, the launch fit neatly into the preparations to mark the first anniversary of Kim's death and the rise of his young son.
Even before his death, Kim Jong Il had laid the ground for his son to inherit a government with national policies focused on science, technology and improving the economy. The son has been characterized as forward-thinking and tech-savvy - and the kind of man bold enough to take a gamble on a tricky rocket launch.
A launch in April, sent amid festivities to mark the centenary of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, ended in failure shortly after liftoff.
Kim Jong Un made clear his intention to treat Wednesday's successful launch as a gift to his father, inviting scientists in charge of the launch from a west coast launch pad to Pyongyang for the mourning rites, according to state media.
The mood in North Korea has been subdued this month in the run-up to the anniversary. However, news of the launch cheered people and the regime held a mass rally on Friday at the main plaza in Pyongyang.
Starting Saturday, North Koreans began streaming to a bronze statue of Kim on Mansu Hill and to Kim Il Sung Square to pay their respects, many laying white mourning flowers and bowing before his image.
On Sunday, a solemn Kim Jong Un joined the memorial service at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on the eve of the anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death.
Kim, whose entrances and exits usually are accompanied by a triumphant welcome song and a swell of cheers, entered the stage in silence, followed by top Workers' Party, government and Korean People's Army officials, as well as his aunt and uncle.
Tight security surrounded the gymnasium near Pyongyang's Pothong Gate. Armed soldiers in helmets posted along the street outside diverted traffic and pedestrians while more guarded every entrance to the building. The handful of foreign journalists allowed to cover the event, including The Associated Press, were searched by armed soldiers.
In his speech, Kim Yong Nam called Kim Jong Il a "peerless patriot" who strengthened the military and stood up to the United States.
The U.S. and North Korea signed a truce, not a peace treaty, at the close of the 1950-53 Korean War, and Pyongyang cites American troops in South Korea as a key reason for building its atomic weapons program.
As the hourlong ceremony came to a close, the band briefly played the mournful refrain to "The General Will Always be With Us." After the musicians put down their instruments, Kim Jong Un stood up and led a silent procession out.
Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea. Follow AP's bureau chief for Pyongyang and Seoul at http://www.twitter.com/newsjean.