What will state funeral reveal of future North Korea?

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What will state funeral reveal of future North Korea?

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Preparations are in their final stages for the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the capital Pyongyang on Wednesday.

Observers too are getting ready to compare what will doubtless be a grandiose occasion with the state funeral 17 years ago for his predecessor: Kim Il-sung, known as the country’s Great Leader.

Kim Jong-un was a boy back then. This time round, as the country’s new leader, he is credited with having instructed the authorities to keep mourners supplied with hot water and tea as they queue in freezing temperatures.

From the “kimjongilia” begonias named after his father, to the Great Successor’s sombre public appearances so far, it is clear that tradition is being followed.

Some expect the ceremonies to have a military flavour given Kim Jong-il’s promotion of North Korea’s armed forces.

More public grieving is also expected, of the sort that has intrigued and bemused millions around the world over the ten days since his death.

Kim Jong-un himself displayed some rare public emotion this week as he paid his respects to his father.

Above all, observers will be looking for signs of North Korea’s future direction. The reception of two unofficial delegations from the South – including a former first lady – is seen as an indication that the North might be open to thawing long-frozen relations.