The video: North Korean citizens are dealing with the death of their enigmatic "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il by weeping violently in the streets, according to footage released by state media. (See a video below.) Gathered in a central square, hundreds of shivering North Koreans wail, fall to their knees, and emotionally pound their fists into the ground. "It is as if your father had died. They cried themselves blind," says Kim Dong-soo, a South Korean who works at a manufacturing business in North Korea. The same thing happened 17 years ago upon the death of Kim Jong Il's father, who founded North Korea in 1948. The younger Kim drove the country's economy into the ground, starving hundreds of thousands of people to death while he focused on building nuclear weapons and thumbing his nose at the world. But propaganda at home portrayed Kim Jong Il as an almost superhuman national hero, leaving many observers unsure whether these tears are real, or if North Koreans are crying because they're terrified of being punished for failing to grieve properly.
The reaction: This is "perhaps the ugliest and most tragic thing I've ever seen come out of North Korea," says Rob Port at Say Anything. These people are obviously faking. "Leave it to the communists to not only victimize the people, but to make them stand in lines and cry (no doubt under threat of torture or death) for the one who victimized them." Actually, the "histrionics are more genuine than we'd like to believe," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. After years of "totalitarian conditioning," many North Koreans saw their Dear Leader as a deity. Naturally, the tears started flowing when people learned "God is dead." The unrestrained expressions of grief are "unsettling," says Gilbert Moon at America Blog. "Personally, I am not sure which would be the more unnerving — that the grief was real or that it was coerced." Judge for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week