Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Video: North Korea mourns Kim Jong-il as flires of protest burn in South

Scenes of public anguish amidst the falling snow during the funeral procession for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang
In this image made from KRT video, mourners cry during a funeral procession for late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in snowy Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.
In this image made from KRT television, a hearse is driven during a funeral procession of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in the snow in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/KRT via APTN) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT

The scenes of grief amidst the falling snowflakes during North Korea's well-orchestrated funeral for Kim Jong-il was a reminder of how effectively the regime can build a personality cult around a leader even though its people endure enormous hardship.

And while leader-in-waitning Kim Jong Un led the state funeral procession for his father through Pyongyang protesters in South Korea vented their anger over the northern regime by burning its flag and shouted anti-North slogans during a rally at Seoul Station.

South Korean activists also tried to enter the office of pro-unification civic group after one of its members entered North Korea to send her condolences to the family of Kim Jong-Il

Television footage broadcast on North Korea's state television showed Kim Jong Un walking at the side of a car bearing a massive portrait of Kim Jong Il as it made its way slowly through a cold, grey Pyongyang.

Tens of thousands of mourners stood in the snow as they passed by. Soldiers stood in lines with their heads bowed. Kim died of a heart attack on December 17.

Kim's youngest son and successor has rapidly gained prominence following his father's death. Dressed in a dark overcoat, the younger Kim bowed his head slightly against the snow, and raised his right arm in salute.

The funeral procession passed by huge crowds of mourners, most of them standing in the snow with their heads bare, many screaming and flailing their arms as soldiers struggled to keep them from spilling on to the road.

"How can the sky not cry?" a weeping soldier standing in the snow said to state TV. "The people... are all crying tears of blood."

Walking behind was Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law and a vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission who is expected to play a crucial role in helping Kim Jong Un take power.

Kim Jong Il, who led the nation with an iron fist following his father Kim Il Sung's death in 1994, died aged 69, according to state media. Kim Jong Un is already being hailed as the "supreme leader" of the party, state and army.

State media - which over the past week have called Kim Jong Un "great successor", "supreme leader" and "sagacious leader" - made it clear that the family's hold on power would extend to a third generation, declaring the country in the younger Kim's "warm care".

A private ceremony is believed to have been held earlier in the inner sanctum of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace with Kim Jong Un and top military and party officials.

Foreign dignitaries in the city had been asked to gather at a sports stadium shortly before noon to be taken to Kumsusan to see the hearse pass at the start of the funeral procession through Pyongyang.

The young Kim made his public debut just last year with a promotion to four-star general and an appointment as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party.

But in the days since his father's death, the campaign to install him as the next leader has been swift, with state media bestowing him with new titles, including "great successor", "supreme leader" and "sagacious leader".



Outside observers will be watching the footage closely for clues on the make-up of Kim Jong Un's inner circle. Walking behind him was Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law and a vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission who is expected to play a crucial role in helping Kim Jong Un take power.

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