Thursday, December 22, 2011


Bad acting? Crocodile tears? No, the salty droplets that trickled down millions of cheeks are as sincere as a Christian’s fear to spend eternity in hell if they were to ignore their God’s list of do and don’ts. In the isolated country of North Korea, where censorship runs rampant and the government’s propaganda machine is one’s main source of information, people are inclined to believe that rainbows and a new star indeed appeared in the sky when Kim Jong-Il was born.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is largely secular, but Kim was worshipped as a man with godlike qualities. He was the supreme leader, the general who single-handedly made North-Korea such a nirvana. In reality, the population lived in poverty while Kim was living it up and doing as he pleased.
But the people of North Korea aren´t ignorant — how could they be when the less-than-wonderful reality is part of their everyday lives? They know the score. They also know that complaining could lead to a life sentence, or worse.
The national impact of the larger-than-life Kim's death is something we privileged westerners will never be able to fathom. The great leader you were spoon-fed to obey and love dies and the news cameras are up close to record your sadness, so a subtle approach won't do. No, you turn on the waterworks. You cry harder than the comrades flanking you. You give the mothers of the Plaza de Maya a run for their money. You sob, bawl, cry a river, howl, scream. You thrust your fists against the wall and throw in an agitated “why?!” for good measure.
And if the sadness of some people appears less than genuine, well, that´s because no matter how adept they've grown at fooling themselves, they can never completely silence their inner bullshit-o-meters.

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