Kim Jong-Il Death Triggers 12 Days of Mourning in North Korea, Gunshots Heard in Pyongyang?

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il passed away on December 17, and now the hermit nation has announced 12 days of mourning in his honor, reports Daily NK. The period of formal mourning will stretch from December 17 until the 29th, two days longer than the official ten-day mourning period for Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung.

North Korea’s state media revealed the planned mourning, with the Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) announcing:

“The body of National Defense Commission Chairman Kim will lie in state at Kumsusan Memorial Palace during the period of mourning from the 17th to the 29th. Visitors will be received between the 20th and 27th. The ceremony for his parting will be performed on the 28th in Pyongyang. Central memorial meetings to honor Chairman Kim will open on the 29th. At that time in Pyongyang and sites in every province there will be an artillery salute and 3 minutes silence, and all official vehicles and vessels will sound their horns.”

Daily NK also reports that North Korea closed its border to China at 1AM on the night of the December 18, before Kim’s death was announced. The move was probably made to prevent civilian unrest and potential mass defection attempts.

In further news, one witness claiming to be in Pyongyang has emailed the BBC claiming gunshots can be heard in the center of Pyongyang:

“I’m in Pyongyang – silence was broken by what seemed to be gunfire near the Kumsusan Memorial Palace – this is very unusual. Some people are on standby to stay put because of elevated troop movement within Pyongyang. There are several extraordinary things happening in Pyongyang.”

I’m not ruling out the validity of that claim entirely, but I will say I find it dubious – Internet access is virtually non-existent in North Korea, limited to only a select few party elites. But it’s very interesting (and a tad scary) if true!