Kim Jong Il is about to go on display as promised, making him the latest authoritarian leader to achieve a certain kind of posthumous immortality.
Kim’s embalmed body will be shown alongside that of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang.
Soon after the middle man in North Korea’s three-generation leadership succession died last December, North Korea officials announced that his body would eventually join his father’s on public display.
Korean media outlets reported that a dream team of Moscow-based embalmers who usually tend to the body of Russian Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin on view in Moscow’s Red Square were dispatched to North Korea to prepare Kim’s body.
North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, is “vulnerable,” given his youth and inexperience, so keeping the bodies of his father and grandfather around will help stabilize the system and justify the succession of power to a third generation.
Kim Jong Il becomes the latest of at least a half-dozen world leaders whose bodies have been kept around for political and/or tourism-related reasons.