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Few details about the funeral were made public but the ceremonies are expected to follow the tradition set in 1994 with Kim Il-sung’s death.

In July 1994, the funeral began with a private ceremony attended by Kim Jong-il and top officials before a long procession through Pyongyang to Kim Il-sung Square, the main plaza in the capital, where hundreds of thousands of mourners were waiting.

North Koreans lined the streets and filled the air with theatrical wails, many of the women in traditional black dresses and with white mourning ribbons affixed to their hair.

A similar procession may be in the works for Wednesday, but with Kim’s namesake red “kimjongilia” begonias replacing the magnolias for Kim Il-sung, and snow and frost as a backdrop rather than sun and greenery.

At the time, details about the funeral in a country largely isolated from the West were shrouded in mystery, revealed only after state TV aired segments of the events in what was the world’s best glimpse of the hidden nation. Most foreigners aside from those living in North Korea were shut out, and the same is expected this week.

Kim Jong-il celebrated major occasions with lavish, meticulously choreographed parades designed to show off the nation’s military might, such as the October 2010 display when he introduced his son to the world, and a strong military presence was expected.

“A display of weapons may also be a way to demonstrate that the military remains loyal to the succession process,” said Ahn Chan-il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in South Korea. “There may even be a small-scale military parade involving airplanes.”

In the Chinese border city of Dandong, across the Yalu River from North Korea, dozens of people crowded into North Korea’s consular offices in a high-rise building and into a North Korean restaurant across the street hoping to watch the funeral on television.

Many were dressed in black and among them were North Koreans, identifiable by the Kim Il-sung badges on their lapels. Police shooed reporters away from both venues, keeping them behind cordons.

Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, and Eugene Hoshiko in Dandong, China, contributed to this report.