There were tears and condolences as North Koreans mourned the death of leader Kim Jong-il on Tuesday in the country’s Moscow embassy at a ceremony to which RIA Novosti was granted exclusive access.
“You are the father of the nation,” an elderly woman wailed as two embassy workers propped her up in front of a portrait of North Korea's late enigmatic ruler.
A slow but steady stream of mourners laid wreaths and flowers before bowing to the portrait of Kim, who had governed North Korea since the death of his father, President Kim Il-sung, in 1994.
Mourners were then ushered into a room to sign a book of condolences.
But while there were plenty of wet eyes and stony faces, there was none of the mass weeping that took place in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, after the news of Kim’s death from a heart attack was announced on Monday. One embassy official could even be seen smiling broadly at a colleague’s comment.
A flag stood at half-mast at the large Soviet-era embassy in south-west Moscow as crowds of journalists and a handful of curious onlookers stood on the street outside.
Inside the embassy, the North Korean ambassador accepted condolences from visitors, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
There were no portraits to be seen at the embassy of North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un – Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and the third successive member of the Kim family to head the country.