Birthday turns into memorial for NKorean leader - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Birthday turns into memorial for NKorean leader

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- North Koreans are gathering in frigid Pyongyang to mark what would have been the 70th birthday of their late leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim died in December just two months shy of Thursday's milestone. The ceremonies are a commemoration of Kim but also a show of support for the son who succeeded him.

North Koreans are arriving at Kim Il Sung Square, the main plaza in the capital city, to leave flowers at a portrait of the longtime leader hanging on the Grand People's Study House.

The veneration of Kim Jong Il has accelerated in recent weeks. But festivities are expected to be muted in light of his Dec. 17 death of a heart attack.

His young son Kim Jong Un has taken charge just three years after he was anointed successor.

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