By the time Kim died in 1994, the North had been rebuilt into a modern, industrial state. But the rot was already setting in. The centralised economy was grinding to a halt, and aid slowed as Pyongyang's Stalinist allies switched to capitalism. Then, in the mid-1990s, famine struck.
Only the messianic cult built around Kim stopped the regime from collapsing. His son deepened the cult, ordering hundreds of murals, giant statues and monuments built and his body entombed in a glass coffin in the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. His portrait hangs in every office and home.
On a visit to the palace last week, workers wearing their Sunday best – ill-fitting suits for the men, traditional jeogori for the women – bowed and filed past his sarcophagus in the Great Hall of Lamentation. A piped dirge played throughout the palace and a taped commentator indicated the proper response: "awestruck silence".
(David McNeil. North Korea closes ranks to anoint Kim's son as future leader. The Independent. September 28, 2010.)