Tears of the Son

Sincere sorrow at the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

Credit: Kim Jong-un. KCNA/RTR/NewscomCredit: Kim Jong-un. KCNA/RTR/Newscom

On December 28, North Koreans bid a formal farewell to Kim Jong-il with a massive, regimented display of ritualized grief. Photos and video of bawling mourners flooded the state-run media, usually the only source of images from inside the Hermit Kingdom. Western observers were intrigued: Was all this hysteria over the death of one of the world’s worst totalitarians the product of fear, social pressure, or—perhaps most confusing of all—sincere grief expressed according to Korean tradition?

Amid the uniform sobbing, one person’s sadness looked less theatrical. At his father’s funeral, the newly dubbed Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un had the ugly, blotchy face of someone who has truly been crying. And why not? Like his father before him, Kim, who is about 27 years old, has inherited dictatorial control over a bleak, starving nation whose all-powerful military may or may not bless his rule.

According to Kim Jong-il’s former sushi chef, Kim Jong-un was selected over his older siblings because the dictator said “that boy is like me.” Which means there is little hope that the concentration camps will close, the Orwellian surveillance state will end, or that Kim Jong-un will be worth mourning with any sincerity when he dies. 

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  • Evan from Evansville||

    First!

  • Evan from Evansville||

    And I'm in S Korea for my second tour of ESL teaching.

    Crazy shit, indeed, may be going down.

  • Tman||

    Best Kim jong-Il pardoy EVER belongs to the genius behind his live journal account.

    http://users.livejournal.com/kim_jong_il__/

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Kim Jong-num-num was crying because he was pulled away from the country's only waffle bar.

  • Loki||

    It kind of sucks when you see how much of a fat fuck he and his father were and then consider the starving peasants under their rule. Kind of makes you feel like giving them a boot to the head.

  • Almanian||

    Exactly - esp. when I consider that the NK populace is actually MEASURABLY SHORTER than their SK counterparts...just from the malnutrition.

    Commonizm...It's Great If Ur At The Top!

  • ||

    Let's not forget that the former dear leader once advised that NK men trim their hair in keeping with the socialist lifestyle since long hair makes you stupid and could exacerbate malnourishment.

  • rther||

    john|2.22.12 @ 12:29PM|#
    We will find out rather. But libel certainly does. And I am going to sue whoever is doing this. Again, if it is you, you need to stop. I doubt you have any assets. But that is okay. I wouldn't do it for money...And constantly posting after someone with libelous material, would count as cyber stalking in most jurisdictions. Again, if it is not you, you have nothing to worry about.-..I have idea who you are and I really don't care. And if you are not the one doing it or if it stops, I will never care. But understand if you are doing it and it does continue, I will find out who you are and it will stop. It is really that simple.
    John|2.24.12 @ 9:04AM|#I Don't do it LH. The pictures she puts up will scar you for life. If you do read it, you can see where the white indian crap comes from and how there is no doubt she is white indian.

  • Muad Dib||

    WTF?

  • fish||

    They have a ....thing.

    Best to look away.

  • ChrisO||

    Does that "thing" include medication for this one? Because it should.

  • Maxxx||

    Don't tell MNG.

  • NotSure||

    Second your WTF?

  • ||

    I call the question

  • ||

    I vote aye.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Uh, wut?

  • Muad Dib||

    Oh No, Hans Brix!

  • Almanian||

    Do you have any idea how fucking BIZZY I am??!

  • Ghost of Kim Jong-Il||

    Fuck you Hans Brix!!!!!

  • Old Man With Candy||

    I'm so ronery.

  • Applederry||

    This is an awfully short article.

    In any case, I would bet much, if not most of the mourning was sincere. You can't live with generations of propaganda without some of it sticking in the people's minds.

    Sadly, I think the real reason nothing in North Korea is unlikely to change is because most Norks have no desire for any change. To them, it's simply the way things are and they accept that.

  • ||

    We will never know. You can't live in a country like that and ever tell the truth. Anyone thought not to be sufficiently grief stricken was in serious trouble. What a horrible place.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    It's what we call an "artifact" on the last page of the print mag. Hence it not exactly being an in-depth look at anything.

    (Read the print mag, it's gooooooood!)

  • cynical||

    I just did the other day. I mean, I've had a sub for a while, but it's usually easier to get timely articles here. Plus comments.

  • ||

    Personally, I wonder if the (Western) concept of sincerity even really applies in a totalitarian hellhole like NORK. Generations of brainwashing, etc.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Sadly, I think the real reason nothing in North Korea is unlikely to change is because most Norks have no desire for any change. To them, it's simply the way things are and they accept that.

    I don't know anything about the culture of North Korea, but East Asia was influenced greatly by Confucianism. Adherence to the Five Relationships has been used for the last 2,000 years to support various imperial dynasties, foreign occupations, even Communist regimes. I can imagine genuine grief at losing "The Shining Light of Mount Paektu", because it is such a deeply implanted cultural more. It's kind of sad really. Hopefully the country will shed this regime (peacefully) soon, and join the rest of the modern world.

  • Almanian||

    Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy!!!

    They should make Lucy the Great Leader of N. Korea. How fucking awesome would THAT be?

    Lucy, what would your first act be?

  • ||

    Why do you say Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy when only one Lucy is sufficient?

  • Almanian||

    Dude - it's a CHANT!

  • ||

    I would move to a country that made Lucy dear leader.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    Anarchist dictator is best dictator!

  • ||

    Glorious Lucy, Who Descended From Heaven

    Invincible and Ever-triumphant Lucy

    Great Lucy, Who Is a Woman of Deeds

    Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Commentariat Love

    Dear Lucy, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that an editor should have

  • ||

    Does anyone else here think SugarFree is the dreamiest? And his prose...to call it fourth-rate would be an injustice. I ♥ you, SugarFree, even if your heart belongs to another.

  • Almanian Jong Il||

    Rucy, Rucy, Rucy, Rucy, Rucy....!!

    *joins throngs of people with posters of Lucy in Pyong Yang*

  • o3||

    if lucy cant shoot like 9 holes-in-one on 18 the first time she golfs...well, then HANG THE IMPOSTER!

  • Tim||

    Yeah but they get free health care and education.

  • ||

    And have a high literacy rate. Something like 99.9% of them are able to read the poorly mimeographed pamphlets about Dear Leader that the political officers hand out.

  • NotSure||

    I am not surprised about the sincerity, when both Mao and Stalin died, large amounts of people were genuinely grieving not because of government dictates.

    There is just something about these powerful men, that no matter how murderous they have been, many people seem to mourn as if their own father has died.

  • Loki||

    Right, the state police rounding up anyone not sufficiently mournful and throwing them into a gulag had nothing to do with it.

    First person to stop crying will be summarily executed for "incorrect ideology". Next 1000 mourners to stop crying will be sentenced to life of hard labor.

  • Zeb||

    I'm sure some of the emotion is genuine. How much is hard to say. Having that shit beat into a population for several generations can make people believe some crazy stuff.
    One of the saddest things about communist dictatorships is how many people actually buy the bull shit. How many people in NK actually know that the rest of the world isn't just as bad? A lot of their staying power seems to come from the isolation of ordinary people from the outside world.

  • Loki||

    I'm sure the people who most genuinely mournful were the party apparatchiks. They were probably worried that their gravy train was about to derail. The common everyday N. Korean peasants, not so much. See me comment above for them.

  • Zeb||

    Sure, but people get attached to fucked up things. Genuine emotion doesn't require that its causes make sense.

  • Sam Grove||

    Stockholm syndrome.

  • Ghost of Kim Jong-Il||

    I'm So Ronery
    So ronery
    So ronery and sadry arone
    There's no one
    Just me onry
    Sitting on my rittle throne
    I work rearry hard and make up great prans
    But nobody ristens, no one understands
    Seems like no one takes me serirousry
    And so I'm ronery
    A rittle ronery
    Poor rittle me

  • Almanian Jong Il||

    Do something, Arrrrec Barrrrrwin!

  • Ghost of Kim Jong-Il||

    I was sent from planet Gyron to conquer the Earth
    I had a terrific plan
    I thought it would work
    Tried to get the earthlings all to kill each other
    You see
    But it all went wrong and now I must decree

    You are worthless, Alec Baldwin
    You are worthless, Alec Baldwin
    You failed in every way and now my stock in you has fallen.
    Your career is stalling’ and you’re worthless, Alec Baldwin
    That’s why I blew your head off
    And your children are all bawling'

  • Ghost of Kim Jong-Il||

    Planet Gyron is inhabited with Zypods like me
    But also with Balmacks who are giant bees
    The Zypods and the Balmacks are at constant war
    So we wanted a new home and that’s what Earth was for

    But you are worthless, Alec Baldwin
    You are worthless, Alec Baldwin
    You fucked up my whole plan
    And now Gyron is smeared with Balmack Pollen

    Your garbage needs some hauling’
    And you’re worthless, Alec Baldwin
    Now I must return home a failure
    I’m afraid the pit of Cry rock is calling

  • Snake Plissken||

    I wanna meet the Duke.

  • ||

    Anarchist dictator is best dictator!

    DISOBEY

  • ||

    "I hereby command that you all wear hats"

    "Why are you obeying me? All those wearing hats will be executed."

    "Goddammit, is everyone here an idiot? Why are you dragging those people away to be executed!"

  • ||

    Did anyone ever see the National Geographic documentary where they went undercover in NK? The last scene, especially, is super fucked up.

  • Almanian||

    I don't think I saw that, but I did see video of a very public execution in the countryside with a bunch of people standing around.

    It looked like the USSR in the 50's....creepy.

  • ||

    I've seen that. If you have a spare hour today, make sure to watch the video I linked. Super super fucked-up.

  • Zeb||

    The Vice guide to NK was pretty good too.

  • Tman||

    ^^^came here to say this^^^.

    Shane Smith and co. are some brave dudes. That video was just frightening.

    They already knew we were journalists, and over there if you get caught being a journalist when you’re supposed to be a tourist you go to jail. We don’t like jail. And we’re willing to bet we’d hate jail in North Korea. But we went for it.

    http://www.vice.com/the-vice-g.....rea-1-of-3

  • Konfounded Kristen||

    It's available on Netflix streaming, also. It's a must see.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Yeah, I've seen that...folks cured of blindness tearfully thanking the scumbag dictator and vowing death and destruction on the very people that made their sight possible.

    I'd have been overcome with the desire to gouge out every motherfucking eye in the room.

  • Lord Flashheart||

    Crossing the Line,is worht watching. It's a documentary about an American named Dresnok who defected in 1962.

    During the "Arduous March" (NORK name for the 90's famine) this guy got his rice ration every day.

    Strikes as a scumbag on multiple levels.

  • Konfounded Kristen||

    There was one scene (not sure if it's in the 9 minute clip above), where Lisa LIng asks the family she's been set up with if Dear Leader has ever done anything wrong. I don't think anyone has even had a thought like that eneter their minds before. They were totally confused about how to address the question, so they just pretended not to understand.

  • k2000k||

    And still they were probably punished for not denouncing the reporter. Either way it was an incredibly fucking stupid question to ask and Lisa Ling should never have asked it.

  • Oh, the horror||

    This is truly one of the most horrifically sad documentaries I've ever seen.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_the_Secret_State

  • Sorry, I should've said...||

    THE MOST horrifically sad documentary I've ever seen.

  • ||

    "video of bawling mourners flooded the state-run media" -- But enough about the Reagan funeral!

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

  • ||

    Kim Jong Il black metal

    Seriously, listen to it. PURE FUCKING AWESOME.

  • Jeffersonian||

    That would have been badass to see at Kimmy's funeral. Right up there with that dude from the Vice Guide singing "Anarchy in the UK" in the Pyongyang karaoke bar.

  • GILMORE||

  • mofo||

    I think now would be the best time to change our foreign policy wrt North Korea. This new Kim is likely wanting to follow the playbook inherited from his father, i.e. creating 'crises' to milk the west for concessions. Whatever else we do, we should not allow them to follow the same script they have been to date.

  • A Serious Man||

    My favorite was the Onion article where Kim Jong-un privately doubts that he is crazy enough to run North Korea because dad set the bar so high.

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....-to,18374/

  • Loki||

    That's probably the real reason he was crying.

    Kim Jon-un: wahhhhh!!!! I'r never be as bat shit crazy as dad was! I mean Seriousry! He was like a rear rife Bond virrain!

  • Zeb||

    I wonder if the Kims have kept any honest private journals that will some day come to light. I always wonder what people like that are actually thinking. And how much of their apparent insanity is genuine and what is an act.

  • Almanian||

    I highly recommend following Kim Jong Fat Un (spoof) on the Twitter (sorry can't remember the handle). Rearry funny

  • MWG||

    Ha! That pic is awesome. This is like the second coming of the juicy tears post.

  • WanT||

    I take no pleasure in a child mourning a parent.

    That said, change needs to come to North Korea, and soon.

  • ||

    North Korea's definitely unique in that it's basically a Stalinist monarchy, founded by a Bolshevik succeeded by his son and now ruled by his grandson.

  • Joe||

    "Tears of the Son" gave me tears from the pun. Ka-boom!

  • cardboard displays||

    It's available on Netflix streaming, also. It's a must see.

  • myfriend123||

    Nice.

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