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Kim Jong Il's body is put on display

Korean Central TV of the North via Reuters

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il lies in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang in this still picture taken from video footage of still images aired by KRT (Korean Central TV of the North) on Dec. 20, 2011.

The Associated Press reports from PYONGYANG, North Korea:

The body of North Korea's long-time ruler Kim Jong Il was laid out in a memorial palace Tuesday as weeping mourners filled public plazas and state media fed a budding personality cult around his third son, hailing him as "born of heaven."

Indicating the leadership transition in the world's only communist dynasty is on track, Kim Jong Un — Kim's youngest known son and successor — visited the body with top military and Workers' Party officials and held what state media called a "solemn ceremony" in the capital, Pyongyang, as the country mourned.

The Korean people were in "deep sorrow at the loss of the benevolent father of our nation," Ri Ho Il, a lecturer at the Korean Revolutionary History Museum, told The Associated Press in Pyongyang.

"He defended our people's happiness, carrying on his forced march both night and day," Ri said.

Korean Central TV of the North via Reuters

Medals belonging to Kim Jong Il are displayed as he lies in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.

Still images aired on state TV showed that the glass coffin holding Kim's body was surrounded by his namesake flowers — red "kimjongilia" blossoms. He was covered with a red blanket, his head placed on a white pillow.

The coffin was in a room of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, a mausoleum where the embalmed body of his father — national founder Kim Il Sung — has been on display in a glass sarcophagus since his death in 1994.

The state funeral is to be held at the palace on Dec. 28. Read the full story.

Korean Central TV of the North via Reuters

Kim Jong Un pays his respects to his father lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.

As the body of North Korea's long-time ruler Kim Jong Il lies on display in a glass coffin, the world is trying to figure out what direction the secretive nation will take now. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

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