Kim Jong-il body placed in glass coffin (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

The body of North Korea’s leader is lying in state in an open glass coffin so that mourners can pay their last respects. His personal armored railway wagon and official Mercedes are on display nearby.

­The commemorative events are taking place in Kumsusan Memorial Palace (also called Kim Il-sung Mausoleum) in downtown Pyongyang.

According to official sources, Kim Jong-il died on the morning of December 17 of fatigue and overwork. Reportedly he had been battling heart disease since allegedly suffering a stroke in 2008.

The coffin of the man who guided his country for 17 years now stands on a pedestal completely covered with red and while natural flowers, apparently carnations and chrysanthemums. The body is dressed in Kim Jong-il’s familiar khaki suit, his head resting on a white pillow.

The funeral has been scheduled for December 29. There have been no reports as to whether Kim Jong-il will find rest next to his father Kim Il-sung or be buried somewhere else.

On Tuesday, the youngest son and successor of the deceased leader – Kim Jung-un – paid his last respects to his father while being accompanied by the country’s top civil and military officials.

So far, access to the body has only been granted to North Korea’s top party officials and military officers, heads of diplomatic missions and foreign military attachés.

Kim Jong-il’s body will lie in state for more than a week. The public will be granted access to the body from December 20 till December 27. On December 29, North Koreans will attend meetings to pay tribute to the memory of their leader and observe a three-minute silence, while all vehicles in the country will sound their horns simultaneously.

The Kumsusan Memorial Palace where Kim Jong-il’s body now lies has opened an exhibition dedicated to the former leader. It includes decorations from over 80 countries, university diplomas received by Kim Jong-il, his personal belongings, a railway wagon he used to travel inside the country and abroad and his official Mercedes. 

Built in 1977, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace was built for North Korea’s founder and first leader, Kim Il-sung, who used to conduct all formal receptions, conferences and meetings there. After Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, the palace was refurbished and turned into a shrine in a record period of time.

North Korean TV foottage shows shows Kim Jong-Il′s body lying in state in glass coffin in Pyongyang (Reuters / Reuters TV)
North Korean TV foottage shows shows Kim Jong-Il's body lying in state in glass coffin in Pyongyang (Reuters / Reuters TV)
Kim Jong-Il′s son and successor Kim Jong-Un and other senior officials paying respects to the body of late leader (AFP Photo / North Korean TV)
Kim Jong-Il's son and successor Kim Jong-Un and other senior officials paying respects to the body of late leader (AFP Photo / North Korean TV)
Kim Jong-Il′s body lying in state in glass coffin (AFP Photo / North Korean TV)
Kim Jong-Il's body lying in state in glass coffin (AFP Photo / North Korean TV)