NKorea vows to defend Kim Jong Un "unto death"

North Korea's next leader, Kim Jong Un, front left, salutes beside the hearse carrying the body of his late father and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during the funeral procession in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011. Behind Kim Jong Un, in order are Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law and vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Ki Nam, and Workers Party officials Choe Thae Bok. At far right is Ri Yong Ho, the Vice Marshal of the Korean People's Army, and behind him is People's Armed Forces Minister Kim Yong Chun. (AP Photo)

December 31, 2011 3:09:30 PM PST
North Korea is welcoming the New Year with a message saying the army, ruling party and people will become "human shields" to defend Kim Jong Il's son and successor "unto death."

The North also said in its annual New Year's message that the country must "launch an all-out drive" to achieve prosperity. This year marks the centennial of the birth of new leader Kim Jong Un's grandfather, the revered national founder Kim Il Sung.

The New Year's message comes weeks after Kim Jong Il's death Dec. 17.

North Korea in recent days has cemented Kim Jong Un's position as leader of the country.

On Saturday, North Korea officially named him Supreme Commander over the 1.2 million-strong military.