- The new North Korean leader carries out his first public inspection of the military
- State-run media publish the annual New Year's message
- Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his father, deserves "absolute trust," editorial says
- It says 2012 will usher prosperity
North Korea's new supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, appears to have carried out his first public inspection with the country's military since the death last month of his father, Kim Jong Il.
The supreme commander of the nuclear-armed state's military spent New Year's Day with the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division, signaling he will carry on his father's "military first" policy, state media KCNA said on Sunday.
"He (Kim Jong Un) underlined the need to be ready for fight and (to) keep arms and combat and technical equipment always ready for actions in the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance," KCNA said.
He was accompanied by his uncle Jang Song Taek, the senior official believed to be his patron, and the military chief of staff, Ri Yong Ho, KCNA reported.
The visit came on the same day that North Korea urged its people to show allegiance to the death for Kim Jong Un.
KCNA published North Korea's annual New Year's Day message, saying, "The entire army should place absolute trust in and follow Kim Jong Un and become human rifles and bombs to defend him unto death."
The editorial is jointly published in the North's leading newspapers and is often scrutinized by South Korean and foreign officials for any signs of the North's intentions and policies for the year.
The editorial called "U.S. aggressor forces" the main obstacle to peace in the Korean peninsula and called for their withdrawal. It criticized "every move of reckless military provocation, arms buildup and war exercises against the North."
The United States currently has around 28,500 military personnel stationed in South Korea, which North Korea claims is the main impediment to reunification of the Korean people. The United States fought on the side of the South during the 1950-53 war and keeps troops in country as a deterrent against the North.
The editorial also renewed the attack against the Lee Myung-bak government in the South, calling government officials "traitors" for not allowing more delegations to Pyongyang to pay respects to the late Kim Jong Il.
Friday, KCNA quoted a National Defense Commission statement saying Pyongyang "will have no dealings with the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors forever."
South Korea's Unification Ministry said it found the statement "regretful. However the ministry's basic principle towards easing tensions in inter-Korean relations and resolving problems through dialogues remains still."
The editorial also claimed North Korea is "at the epochal point of opening the gates of a thriving country."
For North Korea, 2012 is an important year was it marks 100 years since the birth of founder Kim Il Sung and the year the "juche," or self-reliance policy, will bear fruit, according to the government.
The article published the slogan, "Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding, true to the instructions of the great General Kim Jong Il."
However, North Korea is still asking the international community for food aid, as it does not have enough food for its people and its economy has been crippled by years of neglect and bad decisions by the leadership.
North Korea did not mention its nuclear weapons program, a program that the United States and leaders in the region are pressing North Korea to cease in return for food aid.