TOKYO, March 1 -- North Korea's elusive leader Kim Jong-il attended a state funeral for the communist nation's late defense minister O Jin-u on Wednesday, Pyongyang's official news agency said. The (North) Korean Central News Agency said the body of O was laid to rest in during a solemn ceremony in the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery on Mount Taesong in Pyongyang.
The veteran military leader and No. 2 power in the country's political hierarchy died Feb. 25 of cancer at age 78. 'Comrade Kim Jong-il together with senior party and state officials paid a moment's silent tribute to the memory of O Jin U,' KCNA reported. The news agency, monitored in Tokyo, also said the government set up a bust of O in the cemetery. The event marked the second time in less than a week that North Korea's elusive leader has appeared in public. He also visited O's funeral bier on Sunday. Kim has yet to formally assume the titles, but he is widely seen as having inherited control of North Korea after the July death of his father, Kim Il-sung, who founded the country in the wake of World War II. O was a key ally of the elder Kim throughout his career and was seen as an important backer for the new regime of Kim Jong-il. With his death, the younger Kim has lost an important source of support in the powerful military. He was also left the lone member of the Workers' Party Political Bureau Presidium, the top layer in the communist party. Kim Il-sung and O were the only other members of the body.