North Korea bids wintry mass farewell to late leader | Pakistan Today

North Korea bids wintry mass farewell to late leader

Tens of thousands of weeping North Koreans bade farewell Wednesday to longtime leader Kim Jong-Il as his young son and successor walked beside his father’s coffin through a snowbound Pyongyang. Kim Jong-Un was at the forefront of the three-hour procession, in what analysts said was an attempt to bolster the image of the untested new leader of the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation.
The cortege started and ended its 40 kilometres (25 miles) journey at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the late strongman’s body had lain in state in a glass coffin.
Preceded by a car bearing a huge portrait of a smiling Kim and other vehicles, a limousine carried Kim’s coffin — draped with a red ruling party flag and surrounded by white flowers — on its roof. Jong-Un, dressed in black and gloveless despite the cold, held the side of his father’s hearse, accompanied by his influential uncle Jang Song-Thaek and other officials.
“We have paraded here to bid farewell to our respected supreme commander,” the head of a military honour guard said in a tearful voice, before a 21-gun salute was fired at the end of the ceremony. Goose-stepping soldiers carrying dozens of party and military flags marched in salute to Jong-Un and senior officials.
Kim Jong-Il’s absolute 17-year rule was marked by a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands, a crumbling state-directed economy and the pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons which brought international sanctions. UN agencies have said six million people — a quarter of the population — still urgently need food aid.
But vast crowds of shivering soldiers and civilians, many weeping bitterly or beating the frozen ground, were seen on state television lining the route or parading outside the palace. “The people bid farewell to father General in great sorrow,” read the main headline in ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
“The most heartbreaking time has come, when we cannot but bid farewell to the great father everyone in this land had followed with their hearts and souls.”
Millions of servicemen and civilians were “firmly determined to become the guns and bombs to protect our dear comrade Kim Jong-Un and the warriors to realise his ideals and intentions”.
Kim gave North Korea dignity as a country “that manufactured and launched artificial satellites and accessed nukes”, the paper’s editorial said.
Since the elder Kim died of a heart attack on December 17 aged 69, the North’s propaganda machine has been heaping tributes on both him and Jong-Un, aged in his late 20s. Official media has declared Jong-Un the “great successor” and chief of the ruling party and military.



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