Signs of struggle over Kim's coffin: South Korean police clash with students

NORTH KOREA announced yesterday that the funeral of Kim Il Sung would be delayed for two days until Tuesday, in another mysterious twist to the death of its Great Leader that prompted speculation of a power struggle over his succession.

Students in Seoul continued to protest against the official ban on their travelling north to the funeral, and the government called an emergency security meeting to discuss the implications of the delay. Few missed the irony of a postponement in the obsequies to a man who, for the 46 years he was in power, tolerated no hiccups and demanded absolute loyalty and unquestioning dedication from his subjects.

Pyongyang radio has already announced that Kim Jong Il, the 52-year-old son of Kim Il Sung, is poised to take over his father's mantle. North Korea's official news agency said yesterday the funeral was being delayed because of the increasing number of mourners.

But there are lingering suspicions that the younger Kim does not enjoy the full support of the army. He is also thought to face opposition from his stepmother, Kim Song Ae. Some analysts have pointed out that she has apparently been edited out of the last couple of days of North Korean television footage of the mourning ceremonies for her late husband.

'Postponement of the funeral of a leader is unusual in a socialist country,' said an official of the South-North Dialogue Office in Seoul. 'We think the postponement is due to internal necessity to ensure Kim Jong Il's succession, by using the mourning atmosphere.'

Kim Il Sung died on 8 July, and since then rallies with crowds whipped up to mass hysteria have been held all over the country. North Korean television has shown pictures of buses in which all the passengers are wailing uncontrollably, including the driver, until they manage to stand up and sing a revolutionary song 'to convert their sorrow to strength', as urged by Kim Jong Il.

Police in South Korea are continuing their crackdown on students mourning the North Korean leader, and made 30 arrests at the university in Sunchon in the south-west yesterday. In Seoul, where a thousand students fought riot police with petrol bombs and iron pipes on Thursday and more than 50 arrests were made, pro- Kim Il Sung posters have disappeared from campuses.

But students on the campus of Yonsei University yesterday were bitterly critical of the government's ban. The Seoul government has forbidden South Koreans to take up an open offer from North Korea last week to travel north and offer condolences because of fears that Pyongyang would exploit such visits for propaganda purposes.

'South Korea sent a delegation to the funeral of the Japanese emperor, so why not to Pyongyang?' said one student in the basement of Yonsei's student union building. Emperor Hirohito, who died in 1989, presided over most of the period between 1910 and 1945, when Japan subjected Korea to brutal colonisation, and anti-Japanese feeling is still high.

Much of Kim Il Sung's stature is based on his (much-embellished) anti-Japanese guerrilla activities in the 1930s and 1940s, which appeal to all Koreans. He is also admired for 'standing up to' the US, which maintains troops in the South.

'We cannot forgive Kim Il Sung for the terrible things he did in the past,' said another Yonsei student. 'But it is better to look to the future.' He said the Seoul government should try to build bridges with the isolated regime in the North.

The 'terrible things' done by the man now lying in a glass coffin under a purple light in the Presidential Palace in Pyongyang are not inconsiderable. After starting the Korean war in 1950, which left 2.5 million dead and divided the country, Kim Il Sung maintained a rabid hatred of the South and its allies, impoverished his own people, and sanctioned terrorist missions against South Korean targets.

Kim Hyun Hee, the North Korean spy who planted the bomb on the Korean jet that exploded over the Indian Ocean in 1987, killing all 115 on board, experienced the brainwashing of the North at first hand. She confessed to the bombing, was sentenced to death, and then pardoned by President Roh Tae Woo, who declared Kim Il Sung the real culprit for the outrage.

Ms Kim has now written a book, The Tears of My Soul, describing her training as a North Korean spy and her bombing mission. 'Kim Il Sung and his family have done nothing less than rape the North Korean people,' she writes at the end, after describing her confession and 'repentance'. 'It is a tragedy of truly epic proportions.'

(Photograph omitted)

Mourning dictators, page 16

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

£7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 2nd & 3rd Line

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Officer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It's an exciting time for this ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones