N Korea to mobilise masses

North Korea is expected to mobilise hundreds of thousands of mourners for Wednesday’s funeral of the late leader Kim Jong-II, as the world watches for clues to future power brokers in the nuclear-armed nation.

Pyongyang’s state media has so far given no details of the planned event, and foreign guests are barred.

But analysts expect largely a re-run of the 1994 obsequies for Kim’s father and founding president Kim II-Sung — a ceremony designed to pay homage to the late leader and build loyalty to his dynastic successor. “The outpouring of grief in 1994 was prevalent throughout Pyongyang, with almost all citizens out to bid farewell to their leader,” Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies told AFP.

“The grief for Kim II-Sung was genuine, with many people expressing real sorrow. The mood this time appears to be slightly different,” Yang said.

“The regime used the 1994 funeral to strengthen public allegiance and loyalty to the new leader Kim Jong-II. His own funeral this week will be staged in a similar way.” The communist state has proclaimed Kim’s youngest son Jong-Un the “great successor” since his father died on December 17 at 69.

But while Kim Jong-II had 20 years to prepare for his takeover, Jong-Un has had barely three. Analysts are seeking clues about who will have most influence with the untested son, only in his late 20s.

“Old-time Kremlinologists will have a field day figuring out who is standing where and what it all means,” Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS, said of Wednesday’s funeral. The North declared 10 days of national mourning after Kim II-Sung died at 82 on July 8, 1994.

State media depicted scenes of feverish collective grief for him, as it has for his son, with long lines of mourners in front of statues and portraits.

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