North Korea Prepares For Kim Funeral

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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North Koreans continue to mourn their deceased leader Kim Jong Il, ahead of his funeral which is set for Wednesday.

Thousands of people passed under Mr. Kim's giant photograph at the mourning center outside Pyongyang Tuesday, carrying wreaths and bouquets of white flowers. His son and heir Kim Jong Un made another visit to pay respects to his dead father. North Korean state media call the younger Mr. Kim the head of the army and ruling party. He is the third member of the Kim dynasty to hold those positions.

On Wednesday, Kim Jong Il's body will be carried through the main streets of the North Korean capital in a funeral procession before the burial.

So far, state media have given no details of the planned event, and foreigners are barred. But analysts expect the ceremony to be similar to that of Mr. Kim's father and founding president Kim Il Sung in 1994, which highlighted the hallmarks of his rule and strengthened loyalty to his dynastic successor.

The young leader met Monday in Pyongyang with a private delegation of prominent South Koreans, in his first public encounter with foreign visitors since the death of his father was announced last week.

Foreign governments are watching events in Pyongyang closely because of concerns about the young Mr. Kim's rise in a country with a nuclear program, a large army and a history of deep animosity toward its neighbors.

South Korean and Chinese senior officials met in Seoul Tuesday to discuss the situation on the Korean peninsula following Kim Jong Il's death.

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan told reporters that as neighbors, the two countries should forge stronger ties in order to have what he called “a close and timely reaction” to future events. He said maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is in the interests of both nations.

“Because both countries are in an important position to guarantee the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, we hope to expand consensus and promote close and timely interaction in the future.”

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said strategic dialogue between the parties has been very beneficial.

“For the last few years, both sides have exchanged in-depth and honest views regarding international and regional affairs and bilateral relations by holding these kinds of strategy talks. I think it's very useful.”

China is North Korea's major ally and provides valuable economic support and energy to the impoverished nation.

China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, the United States and Russia are the countries involved in the stalled six-party talks aimed at disarming Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.