A huge crowd of mourners converged on Kim Il Sung Square with traditional white mourning flowers in hand. The crowd grew throughout the day, even as heavy snow fell, and some mourners took off their jackets to shield mourning wreaths set up in Kim’s honor, just below the spot where he stood last year waving to crowds at the massive military parade where he introduced his successor, Kim Jong Un.
Two medical workers rushed to carry away a woman who had fainted.
“We chose to come here to care for citizens who might faint because of sorrow and mental strain,” Jon Gyong Song, 29, who works as a doctor in a Pyongyang medical center, told The Associated Press. “The flow of mourners hasn’t stopped since Tuesday night.”
South Korean intelligence reports, meanwhile, indicated Wednesday that North Korea was consolidating power behind Kim’s untested, twenty-something son.
Worries around Northeast Asia have risen sharply as Kim Jong Un rises to power in a country with a 1.2-million troop military, ballistic missiles and an advanced nuclear weapons development program.
South Korea has put its military on high alert. In another sign of border tension, Chinese boatmen along a river separating North Korea and China told the AP that North Korean police have ordered them to stop giving rides to tourists, saying they will fire on the boats if they see anyone with cameras.
Along the Koreas’ border, the world’s most heavily armed, South Korean activists and defectors launched giant balloons containing tens of thousands of propaganda leaflets, a move likely to infuriate the North. Some of the leaflets opposed a hereditary transfer of power in North Korea. Some showed graphic pictures of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s battered corpse and described his gruesome death.
Kim Jong Il ruled the country for 17 years after inheriting power from his father, national founder and eternal North Korean President Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994. Kim Jong Un only entered the public view last year and remains a mystery to most of the world. (more…)