Kim Jong Il’s Funeral Underway in Snowy Pyongyang

Posted December 28th, 2011 at 1:35 am (UTC-5)
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The funeral of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has begun in a snowy Pyongyang, where hundreds of thousands are expected to gather for an extravagant two-day ceremony to cement his legacy and transfer power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

North Korean state television began broadcasting the funeral early Wednesday, with the younger Mr. Kim leading the procession alongside a hearse carrying the body of his father, as soldiers bowed their heads nearby.

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.

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 Mr. Kim as the “great successor,” supreme military commander and chief of the ruling Worker's Party.