|▲ Kim Il Sung's body covered by a glass box|
Kim Il Sung was born in Nam-ri, Kohpyong-myon of Daedong, South Pyongan Province on April 15, 1912, and died at the age of 82 on July 8, 1994.
The biggest North Korean holiday is April 15, Kim Il Sung’s birthday, and this year would have been his 96th birthday. With all the celebration, anyone would think that he is still alive in North Korea, even though he died 14 years ago.
In June 1995, 11 months after his death, the Mt. Keumsoo Assembly Hall that was once used as his private office was renovated and transformed into the Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace to preserve his body permanently according to Kim Jong Il’s order.
A Russian biological research institute was contracted preserve the body, the same institute in charge of preserving Lenin's body.
Kim Il Sung’s body became the 9th eternally-preserved corpse among the former socialist countries’ leaders, including Lenin (1924) and Stalin (1953) of the former U.S.S.R., Dimitrov (1949) of Bulgaria, Gottwald (1953) of former Czechoslovakia, Ho Chi Minh (1969) of Vietnam, Neto (1979) Angola, Burnham (1985) of Guyana and Mao Tse-tung (1976) of China.
The maintenance of the body as well as the process of mummification is painstaking. The body usually lays on an altar covered by a glass box, however it must be treated twice a week to with a coat of antiseptic on the face, hands and other exposed body parts, and soaked in a tub of embalming fluid two or three times a year. The cost of preserving the body is enormous.
Moscow News (Imperial Russia) published on July 7, 1995, said that “the corpse preservation project was completed by 7 Russian engineers, with expenses reaching a million dollars," not to mention the cost of on-going maintenance.
When delegates from the Golkar Party of Indonesia visited Pyongyang in July 1996, cadres of the Chosun Workers’ Party explained to them that the cost of maintaining Kim Il Sung’s body was 800,000 dollars a year, according to the 5th issue of “Keys (published in August, 2000),” the publication of Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights.
The body of Kim Il Sung can be viewed at the Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace (Mausoleum) which is open to the North Korean public, and has been included in foreign sightseeing tours since July 27, 1996, the 43rd anniversary of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).
Visitors must leave all personal belongings at the entrance to the mausoleum. They then must walk through a metal detector, much like at an airport. Dirt and bacteria are eliminated from visitor's shoes by walking over a series of wet rolling brushes much like at a car wash. The final step in preparing to view Kim's body is to walk though something like a vacuum archway which sucks the dust off visitor's clothes.
Hwang Jang Yop, the President of Committee for Democratization of North Korea and the former secretary of the Chosun Workers’ Party, has said that “if North Korea had not built the Mt. Keumsoo Mausoleum, a splendid Memorial Palace for Kim Il Sung, many people could have been saved from starvation in the late 1990s.”
Furthermore, from July, 1994 to 1997, 69 million dollars were reportedly spent on the April 15 Birthday Commemorations of Kim Il Sung.