Dear Leader’s body to be embalmed, displayed

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Dear Leader’s body to be embalmed, displayed

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The Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the body of Kim Il Sung is preserved, will hold and display the corpse of Kim Jong-il. [YONHAP]


The funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died on Dec. 17, is set to take place today at 10 a.m. in Pyongyang and will proceed along the same lines as his father Kim Il Sung’s.

After the funeral, the junior Kim’s body will likely be preserved, as was his father’s, and put on display in a glass coffin at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. The palace is also known as Kim Il Sung Mausoleum because the senior Kim’s body is on display there.

Like his father’s, Kim Jong-il’s ceremony comes exactly 12 days after his death from a heart attack. Kim Il Sung died on July 8, 1994, and his funeral took place on July 19.

The ceremony is expected to start with the deceased leader’s son and next designated leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, bowing to his father’s body to pay final respects.

The North Korean leader’s body will then be moved in a funeral car to the front of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, and the ceremony will officially begin. The North Korean People’s Army, Navy and Air Force will also be lined up, as well as high-ranking officials of the North Korean Workers’ Party. A large North Korean flag will fly from the palace at half-staff. Kim’s eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, is not expected to attend.

After the hour-long ceremony, a black Mercedes Benz hearse bearing the body will follow another Mercedes limousine displaying a large portrait of the leader towards the Pyongyang streets, accompanied by dozens of motorcycles and military jeeps for security. Citizens are expected to gather in the streets for a final farewell.

The funeral procession will circle downtown Pyongyang for about 40 kilometers (25 miles), passing landmarks such as the Arch of Triumph, built in 1982 to commemorate Korea’s resistance against Japanese colonial rule, and Kim Il Sung Stadium. Then it will return to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Mourning continues until tomorrow when the “dear leader’s” memorial is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. in front of tens of thousands of North Korean citizens at the palace.

After the funeral, Kim’s body is expected to be embalmed in the palace.

A group of expert embalmers from Russia, led by Dr. Vladislav Kozeltsev, a biochemist at the Moscow-based institute that keeps Vladimir Lenin’s body, left for Pyongyang on Sunday.

Russian specialists also embalmed the corpse of Kim Il Sung in 1994. Embalmment involves removing all the internal organs, draining the blood and replacing bodily fluids with an embalming solution under the right temperature and humidity.

An embalmed body requires frequent treatment and inspection to maintain its original state, and Russian specialists from the Laboratory of the Mausoleum of V.I. Lenin have made several visits to North Korea in the past to maintain the body of Kim Il Sung.

The senior Kim’s embalmment is estimated to have cost $1 million and maintenance of the body twice a week costs approximately $800,000 yearly. The same costs are expected for the preservation of Kim Jong-il.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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