Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack on the morning of December 17, but the news was only released yesterday at noon. Today, his successor, the third son Kim Jong-un, went to the Kumsusan to honor his father's body. He was accompanied by senior military officials and party members.
The official agency lauded the succession: "Comrade Kim Jong-un is the stable ideological and spiritual pillar of our people," said the Korean Central News Agency, indicating him as "the great successor to the Juche revolution [self-sufficiency] and the head great party, the army and the people. "
Yesterday 13 days of mourning begun, leading up to the state funeral, which will be held December 28. North Korean television continues to show crowds of thousands of people almost in the grip of a collective hysteria, as they drop to their knees, wailing and crying and beating the ground in a sign of mourning.
Southern politicians yesterday expressed their concern to AsiaNews over the possibility of a power struggle between the North’s designated successor Kim Jong-un, head of the army, and his uncles-tutors, who control the party, opening a period of great instability for a country that has nuclear weapons.
For this very reason, neighboring nations are on high alert. Seoul has decided to send official condolences to Pyongyang, while strengthening the military presence on the border.
China also fears a collapse of North Korea and is increasing security along the border, fearing an uninterrupted flow of refugees. But in the interim, Hu Jintao visited the Embassy of North Korea in Beijing today to offer his condolences, while yesterday, all the leadership in Beijing expressed confidence in the new leader.
The United States hopes that Pyongyang will pursue a "path of peace", but has promised to continue to defend South Korea and Tokyo. The U.S. maintains 25 thousand troops in the South and 50 thousand in Japan.