The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is set for Wednesday in Pyongyang, and it’s something of a cliche to say — as basically every story today does — that details about what will happen are largely a mystery.
But informed observers are hazarding educated guesses. Jean H. Lee, the Associated Press’ bureau chief for Korea, reports there will almost surely be similarities to the 1994 funeral for Kim Il Sung (Kim Jong Il’s father) when “wailing and sobbing mourners beat their chests and dropped to their knees as [the] hearse, draped with a red flag and bedecked with white magnolias, crawled through the streets of Pyongyang.”
Wednesday’s funeral though, says Lee, “is also likely to bear the hallmarks of Kim Jong Il’s rule, including more of a military presence for the man who elevated the armed forces as part of his ‘songun,’ or ‘military first,’ policy.”
Ahn Chan-il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in South Korea tells the AP that “there may even be a small-scale military parade involving airplanes.”
CNN says that “thousands of people likely will file past a glass case housing the body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during his funeral,” and that it is “expected to spotlight Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s son and the man designated the ‘great successor’ by the nation’s Worker’s Party.”
The Great Successor was seen apparently shedding some tears earlier today — a rare public display of emotion from the young man, who is thought to be in his late 20s — as he visited the palace where his father is laying in state, as this EuroNews video report shows.
The Guardian has been sifting through what little information there is about the guest list for the funeral and writes that:
“The few non-Koreans attending the funeral could include a Japanese celebrity magician. Tenko Hikita performed in Pyongyang at Kim Jong-il’s invitation in 1998 and 2000, and is said to have had several private dinners with him. … One notable absence from the guest list is Kim Jong-nam, the deceased leader’s eldest son who, according to Confucian tradition, could at one time have expected to take over from his father. But the 40-year-old ruled himself out of succession plans when he was caught attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.”
More important to intelligence agencies around the world as they try to figure out what comes next in North Korea will be “watching how people are aligned around Kim Jong Un” for clues to the country’s future power structure, Paik Hak Soon, a director of inter- Korean relations at the Seongnam, South Korea-based Sejong Institute research group, tells Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Yonhap News reports there has been more “myth-making” in the North about Kim Jong Il’s death — including:
“Rodong Shinmun, a major newspaper published by the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, also claimed Monday that owls had been weeping at the Dec. 5 Youth Mine each day since Kim’s death.”
Eyder reported last week about some of the other “peculiar natural wonders” being associated with the “Dear Leader.”