Pyongyang, Dec 21: Tens of thousands of mourners packed Pyongyang's snowy main square today to pay respects to late leader Kim Jong Il as North Korea tightened security in cities and won loyalty pledges from top generals for Kim's son and anointed heir.
Women held handkerchiefs to their faces as they wept and filed past a huge portrait of a smiling Kim Jong Il hanging on the Grand People's Study House, in the spot where late President Kim Il Sung's photograph usually hangs.
Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack Saturday, according to state media, which reported his death on Monday.
A huge crowd of mourners converged on Kim Il Sung Square with traditional white mourning flowers in hand.
The crowd grew throughout the day, even as heavy snow fell, and some mourners took off their jackets to shield mourning wreaths set up in Kim's honour, just below the spot where he stood last year waving to crowds at the massive military parade where he introduced his successor, Kim Jong Un.
Two medical workers rushed to carry away a woman who had fainted.
“We chose to come here to care for citizens who might faint because of sorrow and mental strain,” Jon Gyong Song, 29, who works as a doctor in a Pyongyang medical center, told The Associated Press.
“The flow of mourners hasn't stopped since Tuesday night.”
South Korean intelligence reports, meanwhile, indicated today that North Korea was consolidating power behind Kim's untested, twenty-something son, Kim Jong Un.
Worries around Northeast Asia have risen sharply as Kim Jong Un rises to power in a country with a 1.2-million troop military, ballistic missiles and an advanced nuclear weapons development programme.