HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paid his respects Saturday to Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, whose embalmed body is on permanent display, just like Kim’s own father and grandfather in North Korea.
Kim’s visit to the mausoleum in Hanoi was part of a two-day official visit to Vietnam that began Friday. Earlier in the week, he met President Donald Trump in Hanoi for their second nuclear summit , which collapsed without agreement.
Ho’s massive granite-and-marble mausoleum, built with help from the Soviet Union, is one of Hanoi’s most famous places. Streams of Vietnamese wait in long lines to pay homage to their beloved former leader, who died in 1969 at the age of 79. Known widely as Uncle Ho, he fought French and Japanese occupiers and later the Americans.
The site of the mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, is where Ho proclaimed a Declaration of Independence in 1945. Ho, who had lived in a modest stilt house instead of the nearby Presidential Palace, left instructions for a simple funeral followed by cremation, but Communist Party leaders deleted those portions of his testament and decided to preserve him as a unifying figure for future generations.
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His body was embalmed with the help of Moscow experts who also preserved the body of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union.
Lenin’s body has been displayed in Red Square since 1924. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s embalmed body was put on display next to Lenin’s in 1953, but Soviet authorities ordered it removed in 1961 and had it buried during a period of de-Stalinization.
The body of Mao Zedong, China’s founding father, has been kept in a Beijing mausoleum since 1977.
Late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s embalmed body was displayed by his wife in a glass casket in the northern Philippines for more than 20 years until current President Rodrigo Duterte allowed it to be buried in 2016 in the national Heroes’ Cemetery.
In North Korea, the bodies of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, are displayed at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Days before his visit to Hanoi, Kim Jong Un visited the memorial hall with his top lieutenants to mark his late father’s birthday. The three Kims are the subject of a personality cult that has made them like god-like figures.
Kim Jong Un’s visit to Vietnam is the first by a North Korean leader since Kim Il Sung came in 1958 and 1964, both for meetings with Ho. Ho traveled to Pyongyang and met Kim Il Sung in 1957.
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