NEWS

North Korea prepares Kim Jong-il's funeral

12/27/2011 08:39 EST | Updated 02/26/2012 05:12 EST

Preparations continued Tuesday for the funeral of late leader Kim Jong-il of North Korea, where officials have released few details about the two days of ceremonies in Pyongyang this week.

The man revered in his country as "Dear Leader," who died of heart failure Dec. 17 at age 69, will be honoured during ceremonies Wednesday and Thursday, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather in the capital to mourn.

State media have not described how events will proceed, but they released one report saying the late leader's appointed successor, Kim Jong-un, has instructed the city to keep mourners warm in sub-zero temperatures, with hot water and tea.

Kim Jong-il is lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.

On Saturday, a week after Kim Jong-il's death, state media referred to his third and youngest son as supreme leader of North Korea's armed forces.

Kim Jong-un attended a wake at the palace on Monday and could be seen wiping away tears.

The young leader-in-waiting was referred to in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper as head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. Rodong Sinmum is the official newspaper of the party.

The funeral for Kim Jong-il, who made it state policy to revere his father as North Korea's "eternal" president, will likely be similar to Kim-il Sung's but probably not outdo it, said Prof. Jeong Jin-gook of the Daejeon Health Sciences College in South Korea.

"Kim Il Sung still remains the most respected among North Koreans," he said of the man who died in 1994.

A display of weapons may also be a way to demonstrate that the North Korean military remains loyal to the succession process,” said Ahn Chan-il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in South Korea. “There may even be a small-scale military parade involving airplanes.”

South Korea's former first lady paid a visit to the North Korean capital on Monday to offer condolences to Kim Jong-un. Lee Hee Ho is the widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung.

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