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North Korea‎ releases images of Kim Jong Il's body lying in state

December 20, 2011 |  4:00 am

North Korea on Tuesday released pictures of the body of Kim Jong Il lying in state as thousands of mourners passed the open casket
REPORTING FROM SEOUL –- North Korea on Tuesday released pictures of the body of Kim Jong Il lying in state as thousands of mourners passed the open casket.

Among those who viewed the late leader, who died of a heart attack over the weekend, was Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong Un, chosen before the dictator's death to succeed him as head of the secretive regime.

North Korea's state-run media released pictures of Kim's body, dressed in the strongman's signature green safari suit. The body was covered with a red satin blanket and surrounded by white chrysanthemums and flashes of the red flower known here as kimjongilia. His head rested on a white pillow as two stern-faced guards stood by.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

Still images of the scene in the capital of Pyongyang, shown on North Korea's state television, showed a large red curtain covering a wall behind Kim's body. As senior officials lined up to pass the body, some wiped tears from their eyes.

The coffin was in a room of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, a mausoleum where the embalmed body of Kim's father -- national founder Kim Il Sung -- has been on display in a glass sarcophagus since his death in 1994.

Nationwide, North Korean flags flew at half-staff at all military facilities, factories, businesses, farms and public buildings -– part of the nation's 11-day period of mourning.

In Pyongyang, weeping mourners offered flower wreaths at countless statues and public monuments honoring the late leader.

The state funeral is to be held at the Kamsusan Memorial Palace on Dec. 28.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

For years, North Koreans referred to the late dictator as "Dear Leader." But on Tuesday, there was a new moniker. They called Kim "born of heaven."

And the nation's propaganda machine was already cranking up euphemisms for his successor.

Kim Jong Un was described Tuesday as "a great person born of heaven," a term previously used only for his father and grandfather, and "the spiritual pillar and the lighthouse of hope" for the military and the people.


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-- John M. Glionna

Photo: The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il lies in state in Pyongyang. Credit: Associated Press