This weekend is the anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's appointment as head of the Korean Workers' Party in 1997.
With tensions rising, Kim met hundreds of his top military commanders and urged them to bolster the nation's defenses, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported earlier Friday. Officers greeted him with rousing cheers of "Fight at the cost of our lives!"
North Korean state television showed still photos of the bouffant-haired leader waving to an assembled crowd of about 500 olive-suited officers in dress caps. Kim later posed for a group photo with his commanders in front of Pyongyang's sprawling mausoleum for his father and national founder, Kim Il Sung.
The meeting was the reclusive leader's first reported appearance in three weeks and the first since Tuesday, when his government shocked the world by announcing plans to test a nuclear device on its way to building an atomic arsenal.
It was unclear when the rally took place, or how many attended, but it could show that Kim is trying to polish his credentials with the military at a time when international pressure is mounting on Pyongyang.