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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Millions of wailing North Koreans line snow bound streets in display of state-controlled grief for Kim Jong Il's funeral

-Kim Jong Un walks beside father's hearse as he prepares to take power
-Stage-managed funeral 'a message that family is still in control'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Farewell: Weeping North Koreans lined the streets of Pyongyang to bid goodbye to long time leader Kim Jong Il

North Korea carried out a meticulously choreographed funeral for its late leader Kim Jong Il today and affirmed that the country was now in the 'warm care' of his son.

Kim's youngest son and successor, Kim Jong Un, walked slowly next to his father's hearse as mourners lining the procession route in Pyongyang wailed in ostentatious displays of grief.

Live footage from the North Korean capital is rarely seen outside of the insular communist dictatorship.

The tightly stage-managed funeral seemed to be a message from the country's ruling family that they remain in tight control despite the death of their figurehead.

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In mourning: North Korea's new leader Kim Jong Un walked alongside the car carrying his father's coffin

Mobbed: Mourners crowded around the hearse carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il through the streets of the capital

Dressed in a dark overcoat, the younger Kim - the focus of the proceedings - bowed his head slightly against the snow, and raised his right arm in salute to the late 'dear leader'.

Tens of thousands of mourners stood in freezing temperatures, wailing and holding onto each other for support as the parade passed by.

As the snow fell from a grey sky soldiers stood in lines with their heads bowed, many with tears streaming down their faces.

'How can the sky not cry?' a weeping soldier standing in the snow said to state TV. 'The people ... are all crying tears of blood.'

No expense spared: The funeral procession of the late 'dear leader' Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea today as his son and successor Kim Jong Un accompanies the coffin

Accompanying: Kim Jong Un walks alongside his father's hearse during the procession

'Sadly missed': A huge portrait of the late Kim Jong Il trundles through the snow during his funeral procession in Pyongyang, North Korea today

Honoured: The procession lasted three hours and was watched by tens of thousands of North Korean

Military salute: North Korean soldiers fired guns in honour of their late leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang

Standing to attention: Kim Jong Un (third from left) salutes during his father's funeral, accompanied by state dignitaries including a woman (second from right) who some believe is his wife

Some of the pictures purporting to show grieving North Koreans at the funeral were actually released by the country's state media yesterday, to ensure they would be available for news agencies to illustrate their coverage of the funeral.

Like his father's in 1994, Kim Jong Il's coffin was wrapped in a red flag. A limousine carrying a huge portrait of a smiling Kim led the procession, and soldiers followed the hearse and lined the streets.

The footage was accompanied by rousing military music.

Guard of honour: North Korean soldiers stood to attention as a car carrying a portrait of Kim Jong Il drove past them at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang

In honour: A portrait of Kim Jong Il is paraded (left) as the hearse is driven through the streets (right)

Turnout: Tens of thousands lined the streets as the hearse carrying Kim Jong Il passed by

The procession passed by a billboard with a slogan praising the 'revolutionary ideas of Comrade Kim Il Sung,' Kim's father and the country's revered founder.

North Korean state media said the memorial route was about 25 miles (40km) long, though top officials did not walk the entire route.

Walking behind was Kim Jong Un was Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law and a vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission. Mr Jang is expected to play a crucial role in helping the young and inexperienced Kim Jong Un take and hold power.

Prostrate with grief: Two men howl in the streets of Pyongyang today during the funeral procession of Kim Jong Il who died on December 16

Uncontrollable: These mourners were unable to hold back floods of tears at the loss of the North Korean tyrant

Stricken with grief: North Korean women soldiers weep hysterically over the death of leader Kim Jong Il in front of his body at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Pyongyang, in this picture released yesterday

Out of control: Despite starving millions of his citizens to death, there has been an enormous outpouring of grief for Kim Jong Il

Wailing: North Koreans fell to the ground in desperation as the procession drove by

Also escorting the limousine were military chief Ri Yong Ho and People's Armed Forces Minster Kim Yong Chun. Their presence indicates they will be important players as the younger Kim consolidates his leadership.

Top Workers' Party officials Choe Thae Bok and Kim Ki Nam and senior military officer Kim Jong Gak also were prominent positions, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

'It shows they will be core powers in North Korea,' said Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor at Korea University in South Korea. 'Particularly, Jang Song Thaek and Ri Yong Ho will be key to Kim Jong Un's leadership.'

The military presence at the funeral Wednesday also suggests Kim will uphold his father's trademark military-first policy, Mr Yoo said.

After the funeral, the young Kim is expected to cement his power by formally assuming command of the 1.2million-strong military, becoming general secretary of the Workers' Party and chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, Mr Yoo said.

Weeping: North Koreans braved the snow to show their support for their dear departed leader

Suffer little children: Girls in North Korea wail in this picture released by state media yesterday as they mourn the 'dear leader' who ruled the country for 14 years with an iron grip

Coordinated: North Koreans lined the streets to mourn the passing of their Dear Leader

Tears: Soldiers cry as a procession carrying late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il passes through the streets of Pyongyang

Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack on December 17 at the age of 69 after ruling the country for 17 years in a brutal and repressive dictatorship.

For 11 days since Kim's death was announced, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have paid their respects to him round the clock.

In freezing temperatures they have visited portraits of the late leader to bow and lay flowers in a theatrical show of grief, similar to the one for his father in 1994.

Kim's body had been laid in state in a glass coffin to which his son paid five visits. Kim Jong Un has rapidly gained prominence following his father's death.

Even as North Koreans mourned the loss of the second leader the nation has known, the transition of power to the younger Kim was already under way.

Official: Thousands of North Koreans are on Pyongyang's streets for Kim Jong Il's state funeral

Wailing: Women and men of all ages have been seen crying during the procession

Devastated: Women soldiers wipe tears from their eyes as others blow their noses during the funeral procession of Kim Jong Il

The young man, who is in late 20s, is already being hailed by state media as the 'supreme leader' of the party, state and army.

State media declared the country in the 'warm care' of his young son as it extended the Kim family's hold on power to a third generation.

Over the past week, state media has bestowed him with new titles, including 'great successor,' 'supreme leader' and 'sagacious leader.'

He is believed to have led a private ceremony earlier Wednesday in the inner sanctum of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace with top military and party officials.

A public memorial service will take place at midday tomorrow and include an artillery salute, three minutes of silence and locomotives and vessels blowing their sirens, North Korea's Central News Agency said.

Choreographed: Endless rows of military stand to attention at the funeral procession of Kim Jong Il, as shown by this picture from state television in North Korea

Mass mourning: North Korean military personnel stand in lines during a funeral for late leader Kim Jong Il

Tribute: Top military and civilian officials walk beside the car carrying the coffin of Kim Jong Il

Heavy snow was falling in Pyongyang, which state media characterized in the early days of mourning as proof that the skies were 'grieving' for Kim Jong Il as well.

According to reports, the heavy snowfall overnight forced authorities to delay the funeral for several hours, as Pyongyang citizens were mobilised to clear the route of the cortege.

Footage on state TV showed images of swirling snow, the log cabin in far northern Mount Paektu where Kim is said to have been born, and the mountain named after him, where his name is carved into the rocky face in red.

Earlier, state television also replayed images of missiles being fired and the April 2009 long-range rocket launch that earned North Korea strengthened U.N. sanctions.

The U.S., South Korea and other nations called it a test for a missile designed to strike the United States; North Korea said the rocket sent a communications satellite into space.

Tears for a tyrant: Kim Jong Un sheds a tear for his father as he lay in state in the in the inner sanctum of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace yesterday

Paying respects: Kim Jong Un's face is contorted with grief as he looks on at his late father. Right, former South Korean first lady Lee Hee-ho (left) shakes hands with Kim Jong-un after paying her respects

The funeral for Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il Sung, was expected to serve as a template for how Kim Jong Il will be mourned.

In 1994, the funeral began with a private ceremony attended by Kim Jong Il and top officials before a long procession through Pyongyang to Kim Il Sung Square, the main plaza in the capital, where hundreds of thousands of mourners were waiting.

North Koreans lined the streets and filled the air with theatrical wails, many of the women in traditional black dresses and with white mourning ribbons affixed to their hair.

At the time, details about the funeral in a country largely isolated from the West were shrouded in mystery, revealed only after state TV aired segments of the events.

Most foreigners aside from those living in North Korea were shut out, and the same is expected this week.

Footage filmed in Pyongyang yesterday showed long lines of people carrying wreaths and bunches of white flowers toward a building with a huge picture of a smiling Kim Jong Il on its facade.

They piled flowers beneath the photo, bowing and crying as they stood in the cold. Some pledged their loyalty to Kim Jong Un.

Light traffic flowed through Pyongyang's streets while people drank hot tea at makeshift tents set up at the sides of the roads.

In the Chinese border city of Dandong, across the Yalu River from North Korea, dozens of people crowded into North Korea's consular offices in a high-rise building and into a North Korean restaurant across the street to watch the funeral on television.

Many were dressed in black and among them were North Koreans, identifiable by the Kim Il Sung badges on their lapels.

Police shooed reporters away from both venues, keeping them behind cordons.

Half staff: The flag at the North Korean Embassy in London was flying low today in tribute to Kim Jong Il's funeral

Rally: Across the border in South Korea, protesters have been burning the North Korean flag in protest at the succession of Kim Jong Un

Protest: South Korea has held a series of rallies against its neighbour since Kim Jong Il died last week



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