North Korea's new leaders on show at Kim Jong-Il funeral
Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans braved temperatures well below freezing Wednesday to attend the funeral of the late Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il. His son and successor, Kim Jong-Un, walked beside his father’s coffin through snowfall as massive crowds looked on.
State television showed footage of soldiers and civilians weeping bitterly and, in some cases, beating the frozen ground as the cortege made its three-hour, 40-kilometre journey to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the body had lain in state in a glass coffin.
Also prominent at the funeral and expected to play a leading role in the country were:
- Senior ruling party officials Kim Ki-Nam and Choe Thae-Bok;
- Military chief Ri Yong-Ho;
- Armed forces minister Kim Yong-Chun;
- Kim Jong-Gak, in charge of military administration and organisation.
The late Kim inherited power from his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung before passing it on to his son.
The country suffered devastating famine in the 1990s and UN agencies estimate that a quarter of the population – six million people – still need food aid.
"The most heartbreaking time has come, when we cannot but bid farewell to the great father everyone in this land had followed with their hearts and souls," declared the r uling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
Millions of military personnel and civilians are "firmly determined to become the guns and bombs to protect our dear comrade Kim Jong-Un and the warriors to realise his ideals and intentions", it said.
Mourning will officially end on Thursday with a nationwide memorial service, including a three-minute silence.
"Kim Jong-Il go to Hell!" was the message on a banner attached to oone of the balloons carrying the leaflets.