One Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Lives


If you're living in North Korea and the portraits are of the Glimmer Twins of Totalitarianism, Kim Jong-il and his dead-but-not-forgotten dad, Kim Il-sung.

Reports Reuters,

Many North Koreans died a "heroic death" after last week's train explosion by running into burning buildings to rescue portraits of leader Kim Jong-il and his father, the North's official media reported on Wednesday.

Portraits of Kim and his late father, national founder Kim Il-sung, are mandatory fixtures in every home, office and factory in the hardline communist state of 23 million. All adults are required to wear lapel pins bearing images of one or both Kims.

Last Thursday's blast in the town of Ryongchon, near the Chinese border, killed at least 161 people and injured 1,300, according to international relief agencies. Many of the victims were children.

The dead also included workers and teachers who died clutching the portraits of the country's ruling family, said North Korea's official KCNA news agency.

Whole thing here. North Korea remains a site of cosmically black humor, too real to be funny, a human nightmare incapable of being fully processed.

[Thanks to Jeff Patterson of Gravity Lens for the tip.]