Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Kim's body on show in glass coffin

Tens of thousands of mourners have packed Pyongyang's main square to pay respects to former leader Kim Jong Il.

Women held handkerchiefs to their faces as they wept and filed past a huge portrait of a smiling Kim hanging on the Grand People's Study House, in the spot where late president Kim Il Sung's photograph usually hangs.

A huge crowd converged on Kim Il Sung Square with traditional white mourning flowers in hand. It grew throughout the day, even as heavy snow fell, and some took off their jackets to shield mourning wreaths set up in Kim's honour, just below the spot where he stood last year waving to crowds at the massive military parade where he introduced his son and successor, Kim Jong Un.

South Korean intelligence reports, meanwhile, indicated that North Korea was consolidating power behind the untested, twenty-something Kim Jong Un.

Worries around the region have risen sharply as Kim Jong Un rises to power in a country with a 1.2-million troop military, ballistic missiles and an advanced nuclear weapons development programme.

South Korea has put its military on high alert. Along the Koreas' border, the world's most heavily armed, South Korean activists and defectors launched giant balloons containing tens of thousands of propaganda leaflets, a move likely to infuriate the North. Some of the leaflets opposed a hereditary transfer of power in North Korea. Some showed graphic pictures of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's battered corpse and described his gruesome death.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service believes the North is now focused on consolidating Kim Jong Un's power. Initial indications coming out of North Korea suggest the transition has been moving forward.

The young Kim led a procession of senior officials on Tuesday in a viewing of Kim Jong Il's body, which is being displayed in a glass coffin near that of Kim Il Sung. Publicly presiding over the funeral proceedings was an important milestone for Kim's son, strengthening his image as the country's political face at home and abroad.

State media showed video of Kim Jong Un receiving mourners, including foreign envoys, as he stood near his father's body with an honour guard. He was sombre during the greetings, although footage at one point showed him teary-eyed.

The North has declared an 11-day period of mourning that will culminate in a state funeral and a national memorial service on December 28-29.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph