Monday, July 11, 2011

North Korea, where the dead reigns

Official North Korean portrait of Kim Il-Sung
In reality, he looked more like this
In North Korea, Kim Jong-Il (who we know as the current leader of the nation) is the "Great Leader". His father  who founded North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, however, is the "Eternal Leader'.

So how do they keep him eternal? He actually still sits on the highest seat of the Party, as the supreme, eternal, and the greatest leader of all. His actual body still sits in a glass coffin, available for public view.

When Kim Il-Sung died in 1994, his body was processed for preservation by a Russian institute called "Biological Research Center", using a technology called 'embalming'.

First, the body was put in a container full of balsamic liquid. Brain, eyeballs, internal organs were removed and replaced with balsamic gel, then the body was dried in open air. Afterwards, to prevent the balsamic liquid from escaping the body, leather cloths were used to cover his body like a mummy, and make up cosmetics were used on his face. More after the jump.

That was the initial process. Continuous preservation of a dead body requires continuous maintenance. Twice a week, the body is taken out of the glass coffin and processed with preserving products for exposed body parts like the face and hands. Every two or three years, the whole body needs to be put in a balsamic liquid tank for a month.

It took about a million dollars for the initial preservation process, and additional 800,000 dollars every year for maintenance. Considering the average monthly income for North Koreans is about 50 dollars a month, that is a lot of money spent for a dead body.

His heir Kim Jong-Il rebuilt the entire royal palace Kim Il-Sung lived in, and transformed it to Kumsusan Memorial Palace, also known as the Kim Il-Sung Mausoleum. Of all mausoleums dedicated to communist leaders of the world, Kumsusan is the largest. (source)
Kumsusan Memorial Palace. That's a huge building for one body.

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