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N. Korea commemorates its late leader amid tensions over nuke, missile

All Headlines 10:35 July 08, 2009

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il paid homage to his late father Kim Il-sung on Wednesday, as the country marked the 15th anniversary of his death amid its renewed standoff with the international community over its missile and nuclear programs.

Kim visited Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the former official residence and office of his father and the North's founder whom North Koreans call their "Great Leader," according to the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kim Il-sung's embalmed body lies inside the renovated palace.

Kim was accompanied by a group of top military officials including the North's defense minister, Kim Yong-chun, the KCNA added.

Kim Jong-il has ruled the communist nation with an iron-clad personality cult after inheriting the throne in the first father-to-son power transfer in the history of communism. Kim Il-sung died of a heart attack in 1994.

North Korea's state media churned out propaganda reports praising what they called the late president's "immortal feats," apparently to create the mood of commemoration and solidify people's allegiance to the current leader.

The KCNA said documentaries on the "revolutionary activities and history of President Kim Il-sung" are being broadcast by television and screened in cinemas.

"The films show impressively the great life of the President who had converted the motherland into a country the master of which is the popular masses, always finding himself among the people," it said in an English-language report. "He willingly took boiled rice mixed with cereals, saying that when the people eat boiled millet, we should take same food."

The 15th anniversary of Kim's death came amid reports that the North is preparing for another hereditary succession of power while regional tensions escalate following its second nuclear test and a series of missile launches.

Kiim Jong-il, who is believed to have suffered a stroke last August, has picked his third and youngest son, Jong-un, as the heir apparent to the throne, according to intelligence sources. Little is known about Jong-un, 26. He is known to have studied at the International School of Berne in Switzerland in the 1990s.


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