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North Korea Marks 3-Year Anniversary of Kim Jong Il's Death


North Koreans bow to bronze statues of North Korea's late founder, Kim Il Sung, left, and late leader, Kim Jong Il, at Mansudae in Pyongyang in this picture provided by Kyodo, Dec. 16, 2014.

North Korea's communist leadership is marking the three-year anniversary of the death of ex-dictator Kim Jong Il.

State television on Wednesday showed North Koreans bowing and leaving flowers at the statue of the former leader and his father Kim Il Sung.

One mourner, Pyongyang resident Jang Un Byol, told North Korean TV why she visited the site at Mansu Hill in the capital.

"It's already been three years since we suddenly lost our general and shed tears. However, even if time goes by and mountains and rivers change, our hearts continue to burn with longing for him and his achievements will look brighter in the future," said Jang.

Festivities, ceremony

Horns from automobiles, ships, and trains rang out across the country at noon Wednesday to mark the death anniversary.

Top North Korean leaders participated in a ceremony later at the Kumsusan Palace, where the bodies of the two late Kims are preserved.

Pyongyang has worked hard to create a personality cult around the Kim family, which has now ruled North Korea for three generations.

Kim Jong Il died unexpectedly in December 2011. He passed power to his young son, Kim Jong Un, who has quickly solidified his rule.

Wednesday marks the end of a traditional three-year mourning period for the late Kim.

The young Kim has largely carried out the same policies as his father, including overseeing the advancement of the country's massive military.

He is also responsible for overseeing what U.N. officials recently described as human rights abuses that are "unparalleled" in the modern world.