“They’re grieving like they knew the man.” Such was the line uttered by disgruntled and supposed conspirator ex-FBI agent Guy Banister (Ed Asner) in Oliver Stone’s JFK as he expressed disgust watching Americans grieve at the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated Nov. 22, 1963.
That was also the first thought which came to my mind as I watched images of North Korea’s citizens mourn the loss of their president Kim Jong-il when he passed away from a heart attack Dec. 17, 2011 last month as a result of “physical and mental over-work” according to the country’s tearful news announcer.
I fought hard to keep from making any jokes.
“My leader, what will we do,” uttered one citizen. “It’s too much! It’s too much!” “Leader, please come back. You cannot leave us. We will always wait for you, leader,” cried another.
Instead of making jokes, however, I let others do it for me like a couple of conservative talk show hosts sitting in for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity the last two weeks of December who said the North Koreans mourning should be the rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street protesters here in the U.S. as they complain about how everyone else in America has a job and money to spend but they don’t.
Over at Mad magazine’s website, The Idiotical, was a picture of the mourners boasting the headline, “Why is this North Korean really crying?” with mocking quotes from the grieving crowds. Among the answers given was “Just found out that Col. Potter from M.A.S.H. died” and “She took Green Bay and the points.”
Like so many other “colorful” dictators of toppled regimes past from Adolf Hitler to Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il was no stranger to being the subject of mockery thanks to his eccentricities and rightly so. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the North Korean dictator the primary villain in the wooden puppet – equal opportunity offender comedy, Team America: World Police. One scene has Kim Jong-il walking throughout his immense palace singing, “I’m so ronery…so ronery…so ronery and sadry arone” which translates to “I’m so lonely…so lonely…so lonely and sadly alone.”
Like former Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi, all one has to do is type in “Kim Jong-il trivia” under any Internet search engine to see thousands of humorous articles that show the “Dear Leader” clearly enjoyed the finer things in life while his people suffered that included the best wines, cigars and what might as well have been called his own private Blockbuster Video store owning a library of 20,000 movies. Among his favorites you ask, Friday the 13th and anything featuring Elizabeth Taylor according to a 12/19/11 cbsnews.com article.
Like dear old dad, the Dear Leader’s son and successor, Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un is already the target of Hollywood mockery. In NBC’s 30 Rock last season, Elizabeth Banks’ journalist character Avery Jessup and wife of TV executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) was kidnapped while on assignment in North Korea and forced to marry Kim Jong-un.
In all seriousness, however, and I cannot speak for anyone else, my feelings for the people of North Korea is that of pity in how completely isolated they are to the outside world thanks to Kim Jong-il’s leadership, or lack thereof, which will likely continue now under the oppressive rule of Kim Jong-un. All one has to do is look at the satellite photographs where at night thousands of lights can be seen from space in South Korea. Over in North Korea, however, the only light seen is just a speck coming from the capital of Pyongyang, if that.
It is no wonder that when the “Dear Leader” passed away last month, the country’s neighbor and still current enemy, South Korea, offered their condolences to the people of North Korea and not so much for Kim Jong-il even as they hope the transition of leadership can usher in a “new era” of peace.