SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marked the 10th anniversary of the death of his father and predecessor on Friday, attending a ceremony with top officials at a palace where his body lies in state while people across the country held commemorations.
Kim Jong Il, the second of the Kim family dynasty, ruled North Korea for 17 years until his death on Dec. 17, 2011. State media at the time did not report his death until two days later.
On Friday, state television broadcasts showed people observing several moments of silence and bowing before portraits and statues of Kim Jong Il. Other footage showed air-raid sirens blaring and car horns honking.
His son, leader Kim Jong Un, was shown with hundreds of officials at a ceremony outside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in the capital, Pyongyang, where the bodies of Kim Jong Il and his father, North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, lie in state under glass.
Clad in a black leather coat, Kim Jong Un stood sombrely beneath a large red banner emblazoned with an image of his father, but was not shown speaking.
Newspapers – all tightly controlled by the North Korean government – published articles praising Kim Jong Il.
“He is, indeed, the greatest man and the great sage of the revolution all the people on this land follow with their deep affection and sincerity,” the ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun paper wrote.
Under Kim Jong Il, North Korea suffered widespread famine in the 1990s, and on coming to power, his son vowed citizens would never have to tighten their belts again.
Ten years into his rule, however, Kim Jong Un is facing widespread economic problems caused by international sanctions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes, natural disasters, and self-imposed anti-pandemic border lockdowns that have cut trade to a trickle.
(Additional reporting by Yeni Seo; Editing by Robert Birsel)