Saturday, 31 December 2011

The funeral of Kim Jong Il

We have all seen the pictures of a grey snowy Pyongyang, the car with the the oversize portrait and the following car with the absurdly oversize wreath of white roses, the wailing crowds, the serried ranks of soldiers bowing in respect, and the son leading the funeral car by holding the mirror, as if leading a horse.

At first it seemed merely to show how far the world has come in the last twenty years - for those of us who grew up in the cold war, the funerals of dead dictators in distant cities formed part of the backdrop of our lives. The funeral seemed like a throwback to the time of Brezhnev and Mao.

But the other thing is how Confucian it was. The white roses and chrysanthemums. The wailing crowds - in Shanghai you can still hire professional wailers - and the funeral walk. Not the death of a communist leader more like the choreographed funeral of some past emperor from an earlier time ...

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