North Korea displayed the body of ruler Kim Jong Il in a glass coffin surrounded by red flowers Tuesday, and his young heir was one of the first to pay respects.
As the country mourned for a second day with high-level visits to Kim’s body at a memorial palace and public gatherings of weeping citizens, state media fed a budding personality cult around his youngest known son and anointed heir, Kim Jong Un, hailing him as a “lighthouse of hope.”
Kim’s body was wrapped in red cloth and surrounded by blossoms of his namesake flowers, red “kimjongilia.” As solemn music played, Kim Jong Un â€” believed to be in his late 20s â€” entered the hall to view his father’s bier, surrounded by military honor guards.
“We will change today’s sorrow into strength and courage and work harder for a powerful and prosperous nation, as our general wanted, under the leadership of the new General Kim Jong Un,” U Son Hui, a Pyongyang resident, told The Associated Press.
The announcement Monday of Kim’s death over the weekend raised acute concerns in the region over the possibility of a power struggle between the untested son and rivals, in a country pursuing nuclear weapons and known for its unpredictability and secrecy. But there have been no signs of unrest or discord in Pyongyang’s somber streets.
With the country in an 11-day period of official mourning, flags were flown at half-staff at all military units, factories, businesses, farms and public buildings.
Kim Jong Il, 69, died of a massive heart attack on Saturday caused by overwork and stress, according to the North’s media. The state funeral for Kim is set for Dec. 28 in Pyongyang, to be followed by a national memorial service the next day, according to the North’s state media. North Korean officials say they will not invite foreign delegations and will allow no entertainment during the mourning period.