North Korea holds mass memorial for founder Kim Il Sung

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Tuesday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the demise of President Kim Il Sung, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Tuesday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the demise of President Kim Il Sung, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS/KCNA

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a mass memorial meeting in Pyongyang on Tuesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of his grandfather and the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung.

The meeting, broadcast live on North Korean state TV, began as Kim walked into a vast conference hall packed with thousands of party and military officials who rose to applaud the young leader.

The leadership podium was set against a backdrop of a red flag surrounding the giant portrait of a smiling Kim Il Sung.

The main eulogy was read by North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, who hailed the elder Kim as the "greatest leader in human history" and offered a long list of his accomplishments, punctuated by lengthy and regular applause.

"Thanks to the powerful army created by the great leader Kim Il Sung, we have successfully overcome all challenges," he said.

Kim Il Sung led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death on July 8, 1994.

He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Il, who also ruled until his death in December 2011 when power was transferred to his son and current leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong Un bears a striking physical resemblance to his grandfather, which he has underlined with his style of dress and haircut.

Like Kim Il Sung, he does not shy away from public speeches and is regularly seen hugging and posing for photos with soldiers.

Kim Jong Il was far more aloof, and only spoke once at a major public event during his 17 years in power.