North Korea's new leader was among the public mourners as the body of Kim Jong-il was shown lying in state on Korean television today. It was the first public appearance by Kim Jong-un since his father's death on Saturday and his ascension to the leadership of his country and the Worker's Party.
Korea Central Television of the North aired still images of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where Kim's body was put on display. It's the same place where the body of his father, the revolutionary founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, has been lying in a glass tomb since his death in 1994. North Korea has announced an official 11-day mourning period with a state funeral to be held on December 28.
The visit by Kim Jong-un was also seen as public display meant to demonstrate that he is now the one in charge, though outside observers still seem uncertain about the true status of the regime. State media has also started referring to Jong-un as “another leader sent from the heaven," an description that emphasizes his rightful place in the line of succession begun by his grandfather, (the "Great Leader") and his father ("Dear Leader.")
The death of Kim is being portrayed as a giant intelligence failure both by the South Koreans and Americans, who appear to have been caught completely unaware by the announcement of his passing, even though Kim had been dead for nearly 48 hours at the time it was revealed. It isn't the first time they've been unable to penetrate the inner workings of this highly secretive government, but given its instability, its massive military and its (still unknown) nuclear capabilities, North Korea's wall of secrecy has officials in the West understandably on edge.
South Korea officially expressed condolences to the North Korean people, but will not send a delegation to the funeral, though North Korea say no foreign dignitaries will be invited.
Update 8:21 a.m.: The AP posted a video of the public displaying of Dear Leader's body:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.