SEOUL, South Korea — The passing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been marked by plunging temperatures, mourning bears and now, according to North Korean state media, by flocks of magpies.
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Kim, who died in December aged 69 years after 17 years running the world's most reclusive state, was reputed to be able to control the weather, as well as to have scored a miraculous 38 under par round of golf.
"At around 17:30 on December 19, 2011, hundreds of magpies appeared from nowhere and hovered over a statue of President Kim Il Sung on Changdok School campus in Mangyongdae District, clattering as if they were telling him the sad news," state news agency KCNA reported on Monday.Video: Kim Jong Un takes power in North Korea (on this page)
Kim's death was announced on December 19, although he was reported by official media to have died on December 17 on a train journey to give guidance to his subjects.
He has been succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who will become the third of his line to head the world's only hereditary totalitarian Stalinist state. Mythmaking is a key part of the personality cult that surrounds the family of founding father Kim Il-sung.
Mythmaking for Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, has already started. He is portrayed as the spitting image of his grandfather and has been dubbed the "genius of geniuses" in military affairs despite having no known military experience.Story: Kim Jong Un vowed 'real war' if rocket was shot down
KCNA reported last week that a family of bears who usually hibernate through the fierce Korean winter had been seen lamenting Kim Jong-il's death.
"The bears, believed to be a mother and cubs, were staying on the road, crying woefully," it said.
China, S. Korea meet
As North Korea's media engaged in apparent mythmaking, the leader of the country's most important ally China met with the president of South Korea.
The two presidents agreed to work together to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, in their first summit since Kim's death opened the chance for major changes in North Korea.Video: Farewell for North Korea’s ‘dear leader’ (on this page)
While North Korea is often a topic when Chinese and South Korean leaders meet, the death of its leader pushed it to the center of the summit, which was to have focused on mending frayed relations over Chinese fishing fleet incursions in South Korean waters and Beijing's support for Pyongyang.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao exchanged "candid views on the situation on the Korean peninsula which has recently faced a crucial moment" and agreed to work together to achieve peace and stability there, South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.
Hu told Lee that China is willing to make "unremitting efforts" to safeguard peace and stability between the Koreas, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The presidents had been expected to emphasize their shared concern for the stability of North Korea — poor but with nuclear weapons programs — as it makes an uncertain transition to rule by Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, and a coterie of his father's advisers.
Beyond that, however, their priorities diverged. China dislikes even talking in detail about its North Korea ally with other countries, seeing it as an invitation to meddling.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.