North Korea urged its people today to defend new leader Kim Jong-Un to the death, in a new year newspaper editorial published by state media setting out policy for 2012.
"The whole party, the entire army and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-Un unto death, and follow the great party for ever," it said.
Jong-Un, aged in his late 20s, was proclaimed the "great successor" after his father Kim Jong-Il died on December 17, and last week was formally appointed supreme commander of the 1.2-million-strong armed forces.
The North, closing ranks publicly behind its new chief, has warned the world not to expect policy changes.
Sunday's editorial called for a strengthening of the armed forces but said Pyongyang will "strive to develop relations of friendship with countries that respect our country's sovereignty".
It did not repeat threats of retaliation against South Korea made on Friday and Saturday for perceived insults during the mourning period for Kim Jong-Il.
The editorial in the ruling communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun and other papers stressed the role of the party, which was sidelined by Kim senior in favour of the military.
"To achieve victory in (the) general advance for this year it is necessary to strengthen the party and enhance its leadership role to the maximum," it said.
The North has set the goal of becoming a "powerful and prosperous" nation this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung --grandfather of the current leader.