Pyongyang mourns with deep grief in heavy snow

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Wednesday morning, heavy snow swirled over Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), but the weather could not block Pyongyangites from mourning the death of DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Il.

People mourn the death of Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in Pyongyang, DPRK, Dec. 21, 2011. [Zhang Li/Xinhua]

People mourn the death of Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in Pyongyang, DPRK, Dec. 21, 2011. [Zhang Li/Xinhua] 

At Kim Il Sung Square, where grand national activities are usually held, flocks of sobbing Pyongyangites were seen grieving in various ways over the death of their great leader.

Wednesday afternoon, a huge picture of Kim Jong Il was displayed on the balcony of the square. In front of the picture were laid numerous wreathes and bouquets from mourners. Citizens of the city walked to the square from different districts and lined up in orderly fashion before being guided to lay down their wreaths and bow to the picture of Kim.

Among the mourners were ordinary citizens, peasants and teenagers, some in wheelchairs, all with expressions of grief on their faces. Some mourners weeped themselves out, and some still remained, bowing and sobbing, after standing in silent tribute.

As early as Monday, when the death of Kim Jong Il was announced, Pyongyangites began to voluntarily head for places wherever there were statues or pictures of Kim Jong Il to mourn. Since Tuesday, several places were designated for mourning, including Kim Il Sung Square and the plaza in front of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium.

According to the DPRK's official news agency KCNA, by Tuesday noon, five million citizens had gone to to various locations to mourn Kim's death.

Kim Jong Il passed away from a great mental and physical strain at 08:30 Dec. 17, 2011, on train during an inspection tour, KCNA said on Monday.

Xinhua reporters saw that the city of Pyongyang basically returned to normal life on Wednesday. Sanitation and construction workers went back to their daily work, responding in action to the call of "holding back tears to push forward the drive to build a thriving nation."

Some closed restaurants and shops opened again. National flags at half mast fluttering in the wind could be be seen outside many residential buildings. Some citizens were seen entering the study hall of the DPRK National Library.

Some staff of the Pyongyang International Telecommunication Bureau were still twisting flowers into wreaths. On the streets, people were selling and buying wreaths, baskets, bouquets and flowers.

Fewer people were seen walking on the streets, while at the mourning places, statues of Kim Il Sung attracted an endless stream of people from all walks of life, including soldiers, students and children.

Han Yun Chol, 45, a soldier with the Korean People's Internal Security Forces, said that "we were saddened to hear the sudden demise of our Supreme Commander, but we would brace ourselves up with determined will and change sorrow into strength."

The National Funeral Committee decided on Dec. 19 that Kim Jong Il's bier would be placed at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace and a mourning period be set from Dec. 17 to 29.

During the mouring period, all institutions and enterprises across the country will hold mourning activities and hoist flags at half-mast while musicals and other entertainment would be banned.

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