Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Uruguay: freed Guantanamo detainees try to adjust to normal life

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Turkey: Inside the Alevi community

Read more

FOCUS

China: A tense Christmas in Wenzhou

Read more

DEBATE

Pope's Scathing Tidings: Pontiff Blasts 'Illnesses' at Vatican's Heart (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pope's Scathing Tidings: Pontiff Blasts 'Illnesses' at Vatican's Heart

Read more

WEB NEWS

Gaza children draw what their future will look like

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Catholic cardinals get coal for Christmas from Pope Francis

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

François Hollande's Christmas wish list

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Embedded with the Islamic State Group

Read more

Asia-pacific

Symbolism and hysteria at Kim Jong-il’s state funeral

Text by Julien PEYRON

Latest update : 2011-12-28

North Korea specialist Juliette Morillot explains the ubiquitous tears and the powerful symbolism of the late Kim Jong-il’s funeral.

The highly choreographed funeral of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il took place on Wednesday, more than ten days after the “dear leader” passed away on December 17 from "a great mental and physical strain,” according to the country's state TV.

State television broadcasted the ceremony from a snow-clad Pyongyang, devoting much of the coverage to the tearful soldiers and civilians who lined the route of the funeral cortege.

While much of the emotion may have seemed exaggerated to foreign viewers, these were not necessarily crocodile tears, according to Juliette Morillot, North Korea expert and journalist for the monthly magazine “La Revue”.

“North Korea is a closed country where state propaganda is all-pervasive,” she told FRANCE 24. “Koreans are culturally highly expressive people. They cry openly and they show their emotions. They are not at all closed when it comes to sentimental outbursts.”

Power hierarchy

Beyond the sights of collective hysteria, the funeral broadcast also offered a glimpse into North Korea’s newly established power hierarchy.

“The cortege was highly choreographed, and each official mourner was in his place around the hearse,” said Morillot.

Centre-stage and dressed in black was Kim Jong-un, the late leader’s third son who has been lauded by state media as the “great successor”.

Date created : 2011-12-28

COMMENT(S)