The video: On Wednesday, an estimated crowd of at least 200,000 mourners lined the streets of Pyongyang to bid farewell to their "Dear Leader," the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who died earlier this month of a heart attack at age 69. The "carefully choreographed" funeral procession was led, perhaps as a "show of stability," by Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, who was named Kim's successor prior to his death. (Watch the top video, embedded below.) The deceased dictator's casket laid on top of a black hearse and was covered by a red revolutionary flag as it was driven on a 25-mile loop around Pyongyang. A massive portrait of Kim was affixed to the vehicle's roof. Mourners wept histrionically as the procession passed. (Watch the bottom video, embedded below.) The funeral was delayed by unexpected snowfall, which the state media claimed as symbolic. One mourner said, "A national tragedy has occurred; how could the sky not cry?"
The reaction: The procession's "elaborate choreography" was intended to "unite the country in grief, and make the change of power more secure" by thrusting Kim Jong Un into the forefront, firmly establishing him as the country's new leader, says John Simpson at BBC News. "Many people in the crowd will have taken comfort from it, just as the North Korean authorities wanted." If there were any doubts that Kim Jong Un is the "anointed prince," says Andrew Salmon at the U.K.'s Telegraph, "there are none now." Not only did the successor lead the cortege, his elder half-brothers were nowhere to be found. But remember, this is a young, untested leader transitioning to power in a highly unstable country, says Donald Kirk at the Christian Science Monitor. The pomp and circumstance can't mask the troubling reality that North Korea is on the verge of collapse "under the weight of the hunger, poverty, and disease" afflicting its 24 million citizens. See for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- The crusade against Iraq War supporters has forgotten someone: Hillary Clinton
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
Subscribe to the Week