PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- North Korean television began live broadcasting of Wednesday's funeral of the country's late leader Kim Jong Il as falling snow delayed the proceedings.
Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of the former leader, and his designated successor, was shown walking at the front of the hearse followed by the country's military and political leaders.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the funeral began at 2 p.m., 4 hours behind schedule, because of heavy snow.
"Snow is falling in Pyongyang and many other areas of Korea Wednesday when the ceremony of bidding last farewell to Kim Jong Il, the great leader of the Korean nation, is just to be held," the state news agency KCNA reported. "The feathery snowfall reminds the Korean people of the snowy day when the leader was born in the secret camp of Mt. Paektu and of the great revolutionary career that he followed through snowdrifts."
Kim Jong Il, who led the isolated Communist country from 1994 -- after the death of his father and national founder Kim Il Sung -- died Dec. 17 at 69. The government said he died of heart failure while traveling on a train.
During his 17 years in power, North Korea acquired arms but became an isolated Communist country, whose people still face severe food shortages.
"All streets in Pyongyang and all towns and villages throughout the country are now inundated with people sweeping away snow before bidding their last farewell to the leader," KCNA said.
The report said people were bidding farewell along the 40 kilometer long route.
Yonhap said Kim Jong Il's body will return to lie in state in the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the embalmed body of his father also lies.
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, drawing tightened U.N. sanctions.
Rodong Sinmun, the state newspaper, said in an essay Wednesday the revolutionary legacy of Kim Jong Il is the people of North Korea, and that he left nothing for himself, KCNA reported.
"Kim Jong Il performed immense ideological and theoretical feats and built lots of edifices on this land and left rich cultural treasures," the essay said.
North Korea "has been dignified as a country that manufactured and launched artificial satellites and accessed nukes."
"Thanks to these legacies we do not worry about the destiny of ourselves and posterity at this time of national mourning," KCNA quoted the essay as saying.
North Korea did not accept any foreign delegation at the funeral in the capital Pyongyang.
The new leader Kim Jong Un has been receiving accolades from the state media although little else is known about him, raising questions as to whether he would be able to consolidate his power in a nuclear-armed country with a huge military.
Yonhap reported the North's military and political leaders have been expressing loyalty to their new leader.
North Korea's state news agency KCNA has referred to Kim Jong Un as the "wise leader" of the ruling Worker's party, country and army.
North Korea analyst Denny Roy at Honolulu's East-West Center said observers outside North Korea would be watching the ceremonies for clues as to where leading figures stand in the new hierarchy, CNN reported.
"What I expect to see is no sign that there's any hiccup or difficulty in Kim Jong Il's plan to have his son Kim Jong Un succeed him," Roy said.