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Kim Jong Il's Last Public Appearance Was At Pyongyang Supermarket (PHOTOS)

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In this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, left, rides an escalator as he visits a Pyongyang supermarket. (AP)
In this undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, left, rides an escalator as he visits a Pyongyang supermarket. (AP)

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator whose death was announced in the United States on Sunday, made his last public appearance at a supermarket in Pyongyang last Thursday, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

In a photo reported to be from the visit, Kim is seen on an escalator, which Chosun Ilbo reports is located in the country's first supermarket.

While the newspaper says the photo was taken on Dec. 15 as part of what state media referred to as his "field guidance tour," the Associated Press says the photo is undated.

PHOTOS BELOW

The New York Times reports that news of the North Korean dictator's death was kept secret until Party officials were ready to make an official announcement regarding a successor:

"The North had kept news of the death of its leader secret for roughly two days, perhaps a sign that the leadership was struggling to position itself for what many believe could be a particularly perilous transition."

According to the photo caption provided by the AP, among the people joining Kim on the escalator is Kim Jong Un, the dictator's third and youngest son who is expected to take over his father's position.

Kim's sister, Kim Kyong Hui, is standing directly behind the dictator, while her husband, Jang Song Thaek, stands two rows behind Kim Jong Un, according to the AP.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) noted that the department store had "been renovated as a supermarket thanks to the initiative and great loving care shown by Kim Jong Il being considerate of the people's well-being and improvement of their living standard."

According to KCNA, Kim toured the supermarket and learned about the store's products and sales plan.

"It is the firm will and determination of the Party to provide the people with things best," Kim said in touring the market, according to KCNA. "Officials should become true servants for the people, who provide them with good things first and worry about their life before anything else."

LOOK: Kim Jong Il's Last Public Appearance.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified an escalator as an elevator. We regret the error.

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