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State Media: Millions Mourn Kim Jong Il

The coffin with the body of North Korea's late ruler, Kim Jong Il, is laid out in a glass sarcophagus in a room of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace during a ceremony on December 21.
North Korea state-run media say millions of people have turned out to mourn "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, whose death two days earlier at the age of 69 was announced on December 19.

The North's official news agency reported at least 5 million people had visited statues and portraits around the capital Pyongyang to pay respects to the late leader -- more than one-fifth of the entire population.

People in winter coats were shown weeping in a park blanketed with snow, laying flowers for the late leader, who presided over a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands.

Kim Jong Il took over after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994.

He continued his father's brutal suppression of dissent and isolation from much of the international community.

His chosen successor is a son, Kim Jung Un, thought to be in his late 20s.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Premer Wen Jiabao and four other top Communist Party officials visited the North Korean Embassy in Beijing on December 21 to offer their condolences. The visit follows one a day earlier by President Hu Jintao and other top Chinese Communist officials. China has called Kim a "close friend" and hailed son Kim Jong Un as the North's new leader.

compiled from agency reports

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