Kim's corpse continues to play vital role: South tries to combat wave of sympathy for dictator

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The Independent Online
THE BODY of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's Communist dictator for 46 years, will be paraded through the streets of Pyongyang today in a triumphal funeral as the government tries to extract the last ounce of propaganda from his demise.

But in South Korea the Prime Minister castigated Kim Il Sung, blaming him for starting the Korean war and for the division of the Korean peninsula, in the first such outburst from Seoul since Kim's death 10 days ago. Disregarding their government's warnings, South Korean students have vowed to wear black ribbons and mourn Kim Il Sung publicly today.

The body of the 82-year-old 'Great Leader' has been lying in state in the Presidential Palace in Pyongyang for one week now, covered by a glass coffin imported from Japan. However, it is unclear whether the body will be preserved and put on permanent view like other deceased Communist leaders: Lenin, Mao Tse-tung and Ho Chi Minh.

The Russian embalmers of Lenin and Ho Chi Minh have said in Moscow that they have not been asked to travel to Pyongyang to help preserve Kim Il Sung's body. Korea is experiencing its hottest summer in 17 years, with temperatures reaching as high as 40C.

Some observers have suggested the real reason for the two-day delay in the official funeral has been uncertainty over what to do with the Great Leader's mortal remains.

In an attempt to incite workers in North Korea to increase their productivity, the government has coined the motto of 'turning sorrow into strength'. North Korean media have been giving regular reports on how workers in the steel, power generation and coal industries have been increasing their output since the death of the Great Leader. The most successful was the Kanggye Youth Power Plant, which produced 60 per cent more electricity in the two days after Kim Il Sung's death than it did in the same period last year, as the workers 'turned their sorrow into strength and courage to increase electricity output'. Officials in Seoul have pointed out the hysterical productivity drive in fact reflects the power shortages normally experienced in North Korea.

The South Korean government has been taken aback by the degree of popular support for Kim Il Sung that has been expressed by students on the nation's university campuses, and yesterday the cabinet resolved to hit back. Lee Yung Dug, the Prime Minister, said: 'There has been a historical assessment that Kim Il Sung is responsible for unfortunate incidents such as the consolidation of national division and the fratricidal war.'

Seoul said it would release documents given by the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, to President Kim Young Sam that prove the North Korean leader planned the invasion of the South in 1950 well in advance, and even sought the approval of Stalin. North Korea claims the South started the war, which left 2.5 million dead and 10 million Koreans separated across the 38th parallel that divides the country.