Secrecy surrounds Kim's state funeral
Updated December 28, 2011 16:30:09
The funeral ceremonies for former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il are underway in Pyongyang.
Pictures broadcast on North Korean state television showed a limousine bearing a huge portrait of a smiling Kim Jong-il leading the funeral cortege, which began moving slowly from the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.
A hearse carrying the coffin was led by a weeping Kim Jong-un, accompanied Jang Song-thaek, his uncle and a key powerbroker in the transition, and Ri Yong-ho, the army chief of staff.
Successor Kim Jong-un was dressed in black and bare-headed and gloveless despite the cold.
Tens of thousands of troops standing in the snow bowed their heads as the hearse drove past.
Earlier, a massed military band was shown playing sombre music as mourners streamed past Kim's body.
The exact details of the funeral service itself were a closely guarded secret, but North Korea watchers expected it to be roughly the same as that for the country's first leader Kim Il-sung.
The motorcade is expected to pass through the streets of Pyongyang via a series of military honour guards before returning to Kumsusan Memorial Palace where Kim Jong-il's body will remain on display.
Korean Central TV still of Kim Jong-il's body lying in a glass coffin in Pyongyang on December 20, 2011. Photo: Burial today: Kim Jong-il's body lying in a glass coffin in Pyongyang (Reuters/North Korean TV)
Hundreds of thousands of mourners were expected to take part in the ceremonies and there were reports that North Koreans working overseas had been ordered to return home to take part in the national show of grief.
South Korean press reports suggested truckloads of flowers had been imported from China and said a group of Russian embalmers were en route to Pyongyang to embalm Kim's body.
Mourning will officially end tomorrow with a nationwide memorial service including a three-minute silence at noon. Trains, ships and other vehicles will sound their hooters.
Kim Jong-un will become the third member of the family to run the country. ....<cont>