North Korea set for farewell to leader
In this file photo, people express condolences to the statue of leader Kim Il-sung after his death in Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang, North Korea back in 1994. AP photoNorth Korea set for a massive ceremonial farewell to late leader Kim Jong-il as it strove to strengthen a new personality cult around his youthful son and successor Kim Jong-un.
The state has given no details of today’s funeral for its “Dear Leader” of the past 17 years and has not invited foreign delegations to the ceremony. But analysts say the regime, as it did in 1994 when Kim Jong-il’s own father died, will use the event to shore up loyalty to the new leader and will likely mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. The son met the leaders of two South Korean delegations at the palace Dec. 26, expressing thanks for their presence. Kim Jong-il, on Dec. 17, and his brief meeting with a group led by a former South Korean first lady and a prominent business leader shows Seoul that he is assured in his new role. Meanwhile, senior South Korean and Chinese officials held talks yesterday to discuss the aftermath of the death Kim Jong-il and ways to revive stalled talks on the North’s nuclear disarmament. South Korean vice foreign minister Park Suk-Hwan called the previously scheduled talks timely “when security conditions on the Korean peninsula have been in focus since the passing of Kim Jong-il.”
South Korean media, basing predictions on arrangements for the 1994 funeral, said the obsequies would begin today, with Kim Jong-un and senior officials paying final respects at the memorial palace. The military was expected to fire a 24-gun salute and troops would march through central Pyongyang, accompanying a limousine carrying Kim’s coffin.