Pyongyang: Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans packed the main plaza in Pyongyang as the nation`s next leader looked on from a balcony at a solemn memorial for late leader Kim Jong Il on Thursday.
Kim Jong Un stood watching from a balcony at the Grand People`s Study House overlooking Kim Il Sung Square, flanked by the top party and military officials.
It was a cold, gray day as the memorial began with a silent tribute for the man who led his 24 million people with absolute rule for 17 years after taking power following the 1994 death of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.
A sea of soldiers filled the square, often the site of the massive military parades that Kim Jong Il loved, some of the seen stamping and trying to keep warm before the ceremony began.
The entire country is engulfed in sadness, a solemn Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People`s Assembly and the ceremonial head of state, told the crowd. State television showed a smiling photograph of Kim Jong Il below him.
The memorial was taking place on the second day of funeral ceremonies for Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack Dec. 17 at age 69, according to state media.
The events are being watched closely for signs to who will take power in the next era of leadership in the country founded by Kim Il Sung in 1948 and led since then by the Kim family.
On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of mourners had lined the streets as Kim Jong Il`s hearse had made its way through the snowy streets in a 2 1/2-hour-long funeral procession.