North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R), flanked by his uncle Jang Song-thaek (Reuters)
A file photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R), flanked by his uncle Jang Song-thaek

North Korea has been marking the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il just days after a major purge of one of the country's senior leaders.

Thousands of North Korean troops commemorated the anniversary of Kim, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un, with a massive military rally outside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang.

The embalmed bodies of Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-Sung are on display in the palace.

"Let's hold great comrade Kim Jong-un in high esteem as the sole centre of unity and leadership," said a large banner during the military ceremony.

"All our people and soldiers have struggled and achieved victory for the past two years by holding our great leader [Kim Jong-il] in high esteem," said Kim Yong-nam, the ceremonial head of state.

The young North Korean leader was flanked by scores of top officials - Choe Ryong-hae, director of General Political Bureau of Korean People's Army, Minister of People's Armed Forces Jang Jong-nam, and Ri Yong-gil, head of general staff of the Korean People's Army.

"Senior members from the ruling Worker's Party of Korea (WPK), the military and the government will take part in the occasion. We will be able to learn who is rising in the North Korea power hierarchy after Jang [Song-thaek] was killed," Paik Hak-soon, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told the Korea Times

Choe is likely to take over the role of Jang, the leader's uncle, who was recently executed following the dramatic purge, at least temporarily for the immediate future, believe analysts. In May, Choe was sent to Beijing to mend ties with China as relations between the two communist countries became strained over North Korea's nuclear test.