PYONGYANG, North Korea - North Korea vowed to unite behind Kim Jong Un during carefully staged events Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of his father's death, in an attempt to show it has returned to business as usual after the execution of his once-powerful uncle last week.
Kim sat silently as a stadium full of military and party officials paid homage to his father, Kim Jong Il, at the day's main event. He was flanked by Kim Yong Nam, the ceremonial head of state, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, representing the military. Conspicuously absent was Jang Song Thaek, who was executed after being accused of corruption and trying to overthrow the government.
Jang was widely seen as the second-most powerful man in North Korea before his fall. The regime's decision to execute and vilify him - accusations of everything from alleged drug abuse to womanizing to trying to create his own power base were trumpeted daily in the state media - heightened questions over the stability of Kim's two-year-old leadership and shattered the North's carefully cultivated illusion of total unity.
But with Jang out of the picture - he is being deleted from state media archives - North Korea's official message Tuesday was back to its usual calls for "single-minded unity" behind Kim's leadership.
As top officials sat with Kim on a wide stage at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium for Tuesday's event with a huge portrait of Kim Jong Il behind them, heads bowed as the traditional North Korean funeral dirge played.
Kim Jong Un, wearing a gray Mao suit, did not speak at the ceremony.
Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui, who is Kim Jong Un's aunt, did not appear at Tuesday's memorial. But she was noted by state media over the weekend in connection with another funeral of a top official, a sign that she has survived Jang's removal.