News / Asia

North Korea Bids A Snowy, Dramatic Farewell to Kim Jong Il

Kurt Achin

Snowy streets and wails of grief dominated the live broadcast from North Korea state television Wednesday, as the reclusive state bid farewell to its absolute leader, Kim Jong Il. International media were barred from the event.

The reason for reported delays in the start of Wednesday's funeral procession was immediately apparent in images broadcast by North Korea's official television network:  streets in the capital, Pyongyang, were coated in snow.

A gigantic portrait of leader Kim Jong Il mounted on a black limousine sedan led the slow drive.  Just behind it, a car carried an enormous wreath from his son and successor, Kim Jong Un.

The third car in line was the hearse itself, with the coffin apparently bearing Kim Jong Il's body rested on the roof of the vehicle on top of a bed of flowers.  The younger Kim walked on the street alongside the vehicle for at least a portion of the procession.

Special Report - North Korea: Looking Inside

Melodrama rose as the vehicle made their way through billowing clouds of snow along the city route.

In 5,000 years of history, asks a North Korean anchor voicing over the procession, can anybody tell us when we have suffered such emotional pain?

Scott Atran, Professor of psychology and public policy at the University of Michigan. Atran, says the dramatic displays of mourning are not unique to North Korea. He spoke with VOA's Ira Mellman.

Thousands of wailing, weeping North Korean soldiers and civilians contorted their faces in dramatic anguish as official television cameras went in for close ups.

In many ways, Wednesday's procession was a bad-weather replay of a similar choreographed event 17 years earlier:  the funeral of Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il Sung.

The elder Kim, who died in 1994, still holds the title "Eternal President." He is revered as a divine figure in North Korea's education and propaganda systems, and researchers say his persona is the single most potent source of political legitimacy in the North's unique form of government.

Related - China's Ambassador Attends Kim Funeral

Ryoo Kihl-jae is a dean at Seoul's Kyungnam Graduate School of North Korean Studies. He says the choice of officials walking along with Kim Jong Un in the procession sends a signal about the transition of power.

He says most of them were Kim Jong Il's key advisors.  Ryoo says that shows a continuity not just along the family lines of father to son, but along political lines of one regime to another.

Kim Jong Il's death leaves a young man in his late 20s in charge of the nuclear armed country.  Experts say his next six to 12 months will be a careful balancing act between courting the support of the hardline military, and exploring the economic reforms the impoverished country so desperately needs.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid