Kim Jong-un, the son and heir apparent of the late leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, as well as senior officials of the country have been paying their respects to the dead leader as his body lies in state ahead of the state funeral due to take place next week. Kim Jong-il died from a heart attack on Saturday, caused by stress according to state media. He was 69 and had led the country since his father’s death in 1994. His death has caused concern among regional powers who fear what the future course may be for the nuclear country
The US has used the death to call for the country to change, saying it should take a “path of peace”. The US also made it clear that it should North Korea decide on aggression, it would defend regional allies. Kim Jong-il will be buried on 28 December following 11 days of official mourning. Flags are currently being flown at half mast throughout the nation, from military bases to farms and public buildings to factories. The ex-leader’s body is currently in a room of the Kumsusan memorial palace. The palace itself is a mausoleum where Kim Jong-il’s father, Kim Il’sung’s body has been embalmed and displayed since his death in 1994.
Kim Jong-il had been in the process of formalising his son as his heir. There are fears that as the transition was not completed, there could be a period of instability and in-fighting in the nuclear state. There are also concerns that Kim Jong-un may not have the political savvy to stay in power, being less than 30 and with very little known about him. Many analysts fear a struggle with the military or other members of the family could occur.
In Pyongyang, groups of people have gathered at landmarks to mourn Kim Jong-il in public displays broadcast by state media. It is unclear how much of the mourning is genuine as opposed to propaganda. In some places long lines have formed in front of statues and portraits of the leader. After several minutes of crying people are moved along to allow the next group of mourners to come up.