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Body of N. Korea's Kim Jong Il unveiled for anniversary of his death

Ng Han Guan / AP

North Koreans clap beneath part of a slogan that calls on people to carry out the revolutionary ideology of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea on Monday.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — The embalmed body of Kim Jong Il, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit, was unveiled on the anniversary of the North Korea leader's death Monday as mourning mixed with pride over a recent satellite launch that was a long-held goal of the late authoritarian leader.

Kim lies in state a few floors below his father, national founder Kim Il Sung, in the Kumsusan mausoleum, the cavernous former presidential palace.


Kim Jong Il was presented lying beneath a red blanket, a spotlight shining on his face in a room suffused in red.

Wails echoed through the chilly hall as a group of North Korean women sobbed into the sashes of their traditional Korean dresses as they bowed before his body.

North Korean state television showed a pudgy Kim Jong Un and his wife paying homage on Monday at a national memorial service at the mausoleum. 

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In the footage, Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, was wearing traditional Korean black mourning clothes and looked to be pregnant - in accordance with recent rumors - but there was no official announcement on her status by North Korean media.

North Korea also unveiled Kim's yacht and his armored train carriage, where he is said to have died. Among the personal belongings featured in the mausoleum are the parka, sunglasses and pointy platform shoes he famously wore in the last decades of his life. A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.

'Event with great significance'
North Koreans paid homage to Kim and basked in the success of last week's launch of a long-range rocket that sent a satellite named after him to space.

Ng Han Guan / AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, officially reopens the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea on Monday.

The launch, condemned in many other capitals as a violation of bans against developing its missile technology, was portrayed not only as a gift to Kim Jong Il but also as proof that his young son, Kim Jong Un, has the strength and vision to lead the country.

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The elder Kim died last Dec. 17 from a heart attack while traveling on his train. His death was famously followed by scenes of North Koreans dramatically wailing in the streets of Pyongyang, and of the 20-something son leading ranks of uniformed and gray-haired officials through funeral and mourning rites.

The mood in the capital was decidedly more upbeat a year later, with some of the euphoria carrying over from last Wednesday's launch.

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North Koreans across the country stopped in their tracks at midday to bow their heads and honor the former ruler as the national flag fluttered at half-staff along streets and from buildings.

China has offered a rare criticism of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, after the country fired a long-range rocket that has been described by U.S. officials as a weapons test. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Pyongyang construction workers took off their yellow hard hats and bowed at the waist as sirens wailed across the city for three minutes. Earlier, Kim Jong Un attended a solemn ceremony to reopen the sprawling granite mausoleum where his father and his grandfather lie in state in separate halls.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans gathered in the frigid plaza outside, newly transformed into a public park with lawns and pergolas.

Speaking outside the mausoleum, renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the military's top political officer, Choe Ryong Hae, said North Korea should be proud of the satellite, calling it "a political event with great significance in the history of Korea and humanity."

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Much of the rest of the world, however, was swift in condemning the launch, which was seen by the United States and other nations as a thinly disguised cover for testing missile technology that could someday be used for a nuclear warhead.

The test, which potentially violates a United Nations ban on North Korean missile activity, underlined Kim Jong Un's determination to continue carrying out his father's hardline policies even if they draw international condemnation.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., talks about the mounting international pressure on North Korea and Syria for their recent rebellious behavior.

Despite inviting further isolation for his impoverished nation and the threat of stiffer sanctions, Kim Jong Un won national prestige and clout by going ahead with the rocket launch.

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The reopening of the mausoleum on the anniversary of the leader's death also follows tradition. Kumsusan, the palace where his father, Kim Il Sung, served as president, was reopened as a mausoleum on the first anniversary of his death in 1994.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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