Seoul – North Korean state media continues its special broadcast around the clock, displaying massive public grief over the loss of its leader Kim Jong Il. The new leader, his son Kim Jong Un, was seen bowing – tight-lipped and fighting tears – in front of his deceased father’s glass coffin decorated with red flowers known as “kimjongilia blossoms.”
He slowly circled the bier inside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace dressed in a black funeral suit looking solemn, followed by 20 to 30 senior party members and military officials.
Analysts in Seoul believe this is the main group in control of North Korea at the moment, including his uncle Jang Sung-Taek and aunt Kim Kyong-Hui. Both are reportedly the mentors of and the weight behind the young Kim.
In a 10-minute long video, Jang was seen standing together with his political rival, Oh Keuk Ryul, known to be a key player in military affairs. Jang’s wife and Kim Jong Il’s only sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, was spotted wiping tears with her handkerchief.
The Kumsusan Memorial Palace is where the embalmed body of Kim Jong-Il’s father and national founder Kim Il Sung has been on display since his death in 1994.
In Seoul, the government expressed sympathy, offering condolences to the people of North Korea. After a day of intense discussions on what would be an appropriate level of condolence, South Korea announced that it will not send delegation to Pyongyang. But travel permissions were given to family members of the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun. North Korean delegates had participated in the funerals of the two men who were behind the historical summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000.
In respect of the official mourning period that North Korea set until December 29, South Korea’s Unification Ministry also announced that it will ask the church groups to cancel the lighting of Christmas trees at the demilitarized zone scheduled this week. The trees were one of the symbols of psychological warfare which North Korea in the past had labeled as a serious provocation.
A two-day state funeral will begin at the Kamsusan Memorial Palace on Dec. 28. According to state media, foreign delegations won’t be invited and there will be entertainment in the country during the mourning period.