PYONGYANG, December 21 (Itar-Tass) — North Korea has plunged into an 11-day mourning over the death of Kim Jong Il. The DPRK central television shows broadcasts from the Kumsusan memorial complex, where on a small pedestal, decorated with fresh flowers, the body of Kim Jong Il, who passed away on December 17, is lying in state in a glass sarcophagus.
The deceased is clad in a khaki suit and covered in a red blanket. His head rests on a white cushion. More than 40 state awards, as well as his Marshal shoulder boards, are exposed next to him. Kim Jong Il was twice awarded the “Hero of the DPRK” title, he was thrice awarded with the Order of Kim Il Sung, other orders and medals. Standing at the coffin are Kim Jong Il’s youngest son Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (Parliament) Kim Yong Nam, Prime Minister Choi Young Rome, as well as vice-marshals of the Korean People’s Army. Delegations of governments and NGOs, military units, labour collectives are passing clockwise by the sarcophagus, bowing to the man, who in the minds of Koreans will remain eternally alive. Many military have come to say final goodbyes to their leader. Their faces are stern, plunged into thought. Women are weeping in front of television cameras.
The heads of diplomatic missions in Pyongyang and international humanitarian organisations, as well as military attaches at the invitation of the DPRK leadership on Tuesday visited the Kumsusan memorial complex where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il’s father, Founder of North Korea Kim Il Sung lies. Russian Ambassador to North Korea Valery Sukhinin was among them.
Well-organised mass mourning ceremonies are simultaneously held in Pyongyang at the Palace of Popular Culture and at the Palace of Sports, in the premises of government agencies, industrial enterprises, educational institutions, where portraits of Kim Jong Il in a mourning frame are installed. Wreaths of white flowers, which in Korea is a symbol of mourning, are being laid at them. Similar mourning events are held in all cities, counties and provinces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Kim Jong Il died in a train on December 17 “of extreme mental and physical fatigue caused by his continuous field guidance tours across the country in the interest of building a prosperous state,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. Officially, the news of this tragic event was announced on radio and television only on December 19. Foreign delegations will not attend the mourning ceremonies. This decision was made by the State Commission for the funeral of the North Korean leader, led by his youngest son Kim Jong Un who has been named a successor to his father.
According to KCNA, portraits of smiling leader Kim Jong Il were displayed at Kim Il Sung Square, the plaza of the April 25 House of Culture, the Party Founding Memorial Tower, the plaza of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium and other places of Pyongyang Tuesday. They were crowded with an endless stream of people carrying with them wreaths, bouquets and flowers prepared with sincerity. Roads leading to those places and residential areas contiguous to them became crowded with mourners in a minute. These places turned into a veritable sea of mourners who bitterly wept, looking up to portraits of smiling Kim Jong Il. Similar portraits were also displayed on the front walls of the Pyongyang Circus Theatre and the Hana Music Information Centre.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the DPRK embassy in Moscow on Tuesday to express deep condolences over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. He made the following entry in mourners’ book: “While sharing sorrow with the friendly Korean people, we pay profound homage to Kim Jong Il, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission. It is our belief that continuity will be given to developing and boosting the traditional Russia-DPRK friendly and good neighbourly relations.”