Kim Jong Il’s Funeral Held in Snowy Pyongyang

Posted December 28th, 2011 at 7:45 am (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of weeping North Koreans bade a final farewell to longtime leader Kim Jong Il Wednesday as a black hearse carried his coffin through the capital Pyongyang.

Snow filled the gray skies as the funeral procession began early Wednesday. A black limousine with a huge portrait of the late leader led the procession through Pyongyang's snow-covered streets, followed by another limousine with Mr. Kim's flag-draped coffin resting atop on a bed of white flowers.

Bitterly weeping mourners lined the streets, many wailing and flailing their arms in grief as soldiers struggled to keep them from spilling onto the road.

Images broadcast on North Korea's state television showed Mr. Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong Un, dressed in a dark overcoat, hand raised in salute, walking alongside his father's hearse as it returned to the huge square of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.

Walking behind him was his influential uncle Jang Song Thaek, senior party officials Kim Ki Nam and Choe Thae Bok, military chief Ri Yong Ho, armed forces minister Kim Yong Chun and senior military officer Kim Jong Gak.

Analysts say the proximity of the political and military officials to the young leader could provide clues to the make-up of his inner circle.

The funeral ceremony will continue Thursday.

Since Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack on December 17, state television has shown repeated scenes of extraordinary public grief throughout North Korea.

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.

Official media have been quick to declare Kim Jong Un as the “great successor,” supreme military commander and chief of the ruling Worker's Party.