N Korea set to mobilise masses for funeral

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 16:32

Seoul: North Korea is expected to mobilise
hundreds of thousands of mourners for tomorrow`s funeral of
late leader Kim Jong-Il, as the world watches for clues to
future powerbrokers in the nuclear-armed nation.

Pyongyang`s state media has so far given no details of
the planned event, and foreign guests are barred.

But analysts expect largely a re-run of the 1994
obsequies for Kim`s father and founding president Kim Il-Sung
-- a ceremony designed to pay homage to the late leader and
build loyalty to his dynastic successor.

"The outpouring of grief in 1994 was prevalent throughout
Pyongyang, with almost all citizens out to bid farewell to
their leader," Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul`s University of North
Korean Studies said.

"The grief for Kim Il-Sung was genuine, with many people
expressing real sorrow. The mood this time appears to be
slightly different," Yang said.

"The regime used the 1994 funeral to strengthen public
allegiance and loyalty to new leader Kim Jong-Il. His own
funeral this week will be staged in a similar way."

The communist state has proclaimed Kim`s youngest son
Jong-Un the "great successor" since his father died on
December 17 aged 69.

But while Kim Jong-Il had 20 years to prepare for his
takeover, Jong-Un has had barely three. Analysts are seeking
clues about who will have most influence with the untested
son, only in his late 20s.

"Old-time Kremlinologists will have a field day figuring
out who is standing where and what it all means," Ralph Cossa,
president of the Pacific Forum CSIS, said of tomorrow`s
funeral.

The North declared 10 days of national mourning after Kim
Il-Sung died aged 82 on July 8, 1994.

State media depicted scenes of feverish collective grief
for him, as it has for his son, with long lines of mourners in
front of statues and portraits.

On the day of the funeral two million people were said to
be lining the streets of Pyongyang, many of them weeping.
Kim Jong-Il, dressed in a dark blue Mao-style suit, had
presided over mourning rites as his father lay in state in a
glass coffin similar to the one now on display.

After the son paid his last respects, the coffin --
draped with a red flag and mounted on a black limousine --
left the Kumsusan Memorial Palace where the son`s body is also
displayed.

The cortege was headed by a truck carrying a military
band, followed by a huge portrait of Kim Il-Sung mounted on a
car and a fleet of black Mercedes. They drove past an honour
guard to the rumble of a gun salute.

Kim Jong-Il did not take part in the funeral motorcade,
which lasted more than three hours. The procession made its
way past landmarks such as Mansudae Hill -- on which stands a
towering statue of Kim Il-Sung -- and the Arch of Triumph
Square before returning to the palace.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 16:32

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