North Korea holds funeral for 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-il
Published 28/12/2011 | 09:41
North Korea began two days of official mourning for Kim Jong-il on Wednesday, with state television showing live coverage of the late leader's hearse leaving the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang.
The state funeral began at 2pm, four hours later than scheduled due to heavy snow that began to fall overnight in the North Korean capital. Television filled the time by showing historical footage of Kim and documentaries extolling his achievements.
Kim Jong-un, the Dear Leader's son and heir, was pictured bareheaded and without gloves walking alongside the right side of the hearse.
The 20-something dictator was followed by senior officers in the military and members of the political elite, on whom he will have to rely heavily to steer the impoverished and isolated state forward.
The funeral cortege was led by a black limousine bearing a huge portrait of a smiling, benign-looking Kim Jong-il and drove slowly through the streets of the city. The third vehicle in the convoy carried a huge wreath of white flowers.
Kim is reported to have died on December 17 after suffering a heart attack that North Korean media has reported was brought on by overwork. He was 69.
The roads were lined by tens of thousands of troops with bowed heads, while crowds of wailing residents of the capital stood by clutching one another in apparent grief.
Many had been waiting in the snow since early in the morning and shelters have been set up along the route of the funeral procession to give out cups of hot water. Army tents with red crosses have also been erected in the city for medical personnel to deal with people suffering from the cold or overcome with grief at the passing of the man who has ruled this country with an iron fist since the death of his own father in 1994.
Kim's body will return to lie in state in the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the embalmed body of his father, Kim Il-sung, also lies.
North Korea's media has been praising the achievements of Kim Jong-il since his death, particularly what it claims are his unstinting efforts to create a strong and powerful state by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of his father.
It has also heaped acclaim on Kim Jong-un as the "great successor," who "will change sorrow into strength and bravery so that we can overcome current difficulties and fight more fiercely for a new victory for our Juche revolution."