|Kim Jong-il’s death triggered an outpouring of national mourning in the reclusive communist nation [Reuters]|
North Korea says the preserved body of Kim Jong-il will be placed on permanent display in a Pyongyang palace also housing the embalmed body of his father.
The communist government said on Thursday that memorial towers would also be built nationwide to honour the country’s late leader,who died last month.
“Great leader Kim Jong-il will be preserved to look the same as when he was alive, at Kumsusan Memorial Palace,” the official KCNA news agency reported.
The body of Kim’s father, North Korea’s founding president Kim Il-sung who was declared the country’s eternal president after his death in 1994, is already on view to favoured visitors to the building.
Kim Jong-il died on December 17 of a heart attack at age 69 after 17 years in charge of the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation.
His son Kim Jong-un has taken over the leadership after the second dynastic succession.
KCNA, quoting a decision from the ruling communist party which described the late Kim as its “eternal leader”, said a bronze statue of him would be erected.
It said smiling portraits “and towers to his immortality” would be built nationwide and his birthday on February 16, “the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation”, would be named the Day of the Shining Star.
Kim’s body, dressed in his trademark khaki tunic, was put on display at the palace before his funeral on December 28.
The late Kims were the subject of a massive personality cult that bestowed near-godlike status on them.
Analyst Paik Hak-soon, of Seoul’s Sejong Institute think tank, said Thursday’s announcement “showed the absolute authority of the past leaders and is also aimed at boosting Kim Jong-un’s status as their direct descendant”.
Paik told the AFP news agency that the declaration of February 16 as the nation’s greatest holiday would serve the same purpose of bolstering Jong-un’s status.
Jong-un, aged in his late 20s, has been declared “supreme leader of party, army and people” and formally appointed as military chief. Troops held a rally on Monday outside the memorial palace to pledge loyalty to the new leader.
Kim Il-sung’s corpse was embalmed with the help of a Russian team which continues to visit North Korea to renew the embalming, a process that takes about a month.