North Korea unveiled the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit, on the anniversary of his death on Monday as mourning mixed with pride over a recent satellite launch that was a long-held goal of the late authoritarian leader.
Kim lies a few floors below his father, national founder Kim Il Sung, in the Kumsusan mausoleum, the cavernous former presidential palace. Kim Jong Il is presented lying beneath a red blanket, a spotlight shining on his face in a room suffused in red.
Wails echoed through the chilly hall as a group of North Korean women sobbed into the sashes of their traditional Korean dresses as they bowed before his body. The hall bearing the glass coffin was opened to select visitors including The Associated Press for the first time since his death.
North Korea also unveiled Kim’s yacht and his armoured train carriage, where he is said to have died. Among the personal belongings featured in the mausoleum are the parka, sunglasses and pointy platform shoes he famously wore in the last decades of his life. A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.
North Koreans paid homage to Kim and basked in the success of last week’s launch of a long-range rocket that sent a satellite named after him to space.
The elder Kim died last Dec. 17 from a heart attack while travelling on his train. Cameras were not allowed inside the mausoleum, and state media did not release any images of Kim Jong Il’s body.