Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s “eternal” leader, is set to become literally so as the Hermit Kingdom announced his body is to be embalmed. Since his sudden death of a heart attack last month at age 69, Kim’s body has been on public display at the Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang, where the body of his father, Kim Sung Il, has been preserved since he died in 1994.
The decision follows a bizarre tradition of embalming Communist leaders’ bodies, with the corpses of Mao Zedong, Vladimir Ilich Lenin and Ho Chi Minh being the most famous ones still on display. Meanwhile, as the North Korean people loudly mourned the death of his father, successor Kim Jong Un has been bestowed with, seemingly, all possible laudatory titles the regime can find to bolster the cult of the twentysomething’s personality. The younger Kim even received a congratulatory note from Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, whose crackdown on protesters has killed more than 5,000 people since March, according to the United Nations.