PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea's anointed heir Kim Jong Un led a solemn procession of mourners Tuesday to the glass coffin of his father and longtime ruler — a strong indication that a smooth leadership transition was under way in the country known for secrecy and unpredictability.
Weeping members of North Korea's elite filed past the body of Kim Jong Il, which was draped in red cloth and surrounded by stony-faced honor guards and dozens of red and white flowers.
State media fed a budding personality cult around his youngest known son, hailing him as a "lighthouse of hope" as the country was awash in a "sea of tears and grief."
In a dreamlike scene captured by Associated Press Television News, Kim's coffin appeared to float on a raft of "kimjongilia" — the flowers named after him — with his head and shoulders bathed in a spotlight as solemn mustic played. Various medals and honors were displayed at his feet.
The bier was located in a hall of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, a mausoleum where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il's father and North Korean founder Kim Il Sung has been on view in a glass sarcophagus since his death in 1994.
Kim Jong Il's 27-year-old son and heir, Kim Jong Un, wore a black Mao-style suit, his hair cropped closely on the sides but longer on top, as he walked with much older officials in suits and military uniforms.
Stepping away from the group, Kim Jong Un bowed deeply, his expression serious, before circling the bier with other officials.
The announcement Monday of Kim's death over the weekend raised acute worries in the region over the possibility of a power struggle between the untested son and rivals in an impoverished and reclusive country with a nuclear program.
But there have been no signs of unrest or discord in Pyongyang.
With the country in an 11-day period of official mourning, flags were at half-staff at all military units, factories, businesses, farms and public buildings. The streets of Pyongyang were quiet, but throngs gathered at landmarks honoring Kim.
Outside one of the capital's main performance centers, mourners carried wreaths and flowers toward a portrait of Kim Jong Il. Groups were allowed to grieve in front of the portrait for a few minutes at a time.
"We will change today's sorrow into strength and courage and work harder for a powerful and prosperous nation, as our general wanted, under the leadership of the new general, Kim Jong Un," Pyongyang resident U Son Hui told The Associated Press.
Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack on Saturday caused by overwork and stress, according to North Korean media. He was 69 — although some experts question the official accounts of the date and place of his birth.
A state funeral is set for Dec. 28 in Pyongyang, to be followed by a national memorial service the next day, according to state media. North Korean officials say they will not invite foreign delegations and will allow no entertainment during the mourning period.
Since Kim's death, the media stepped up their lavish praise of the son, indicating an effort to strengthen a cult of personality around him similar to that of his father and — much more strongly — of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.
- Wyoming ranked third in US in percentage of...
- Test anxiety: How cold feet are ruining your...
- Hometown pastor says community stands by...
- Sen. Harry Reid's retirement recalls his...
- 'A marvellous work and a wonder': A look back...
- Drownings along Rio Grande spike after...
- O'Malley: Presidency 'not some crown'...
- Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say it's...
- Student loan recipients on 'strike'... 79
- Rep. Trey Gowdy: Hillary Clinton wiped... 49
- Sen. Harry Reid's retirement recalls... 40
- Indiana lawmakers try to quiet... 37
- Senate's Harry Reid announces he won't... 34
- Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say... 26
- Delete, erase, shred: The enemies of... 15
- O'Malley: Presidency 'not some crown'... 13