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N. Korean media steps up myth-making for death of Kim Jong-il
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's propaganda machines were stepping up their efforts on Tuesday to create a mystique surrounding the abrupt death of Kim Jong-il, reporting a series of supernatural events following the demise of the "Dear Leader."

   The North Korean regime has built an elaborate personality cult around the late Kim and his father and predecessor, North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994. Such quasi-religious mystique has partly helped the Kim family rule North Korea.

   In one account, an unidentified bird was seen brushing off snow from a statue of Kim Jong-il last week, "breaking the hearts of many people" who heard the story, the official Radio Pyongyang reported.

   "As I was unable to calm my heart from a guilty conscience, a white bird larger than a dove suddenly brushed off the snow from the shoulders of the leader's statue," one eyewitness was quoted as saying by the radio station.

   North Korea announced through its media on Dec. 19 that the 69-year-old leader died of a heart attack during a train trip two days earlier. Following the announcement, grief-stricken North Koreans came out in large numbers to mourn their leader's death.

   North Korean television even showed scenes of kindergarteners weeping and crying in bitter cold weather as they mourned the death of the late leader, but analysts in Seoul said it appeared the communist regime mobilized the children.

   Rodong Shinmun, a major newspaper published by the North's ruling Workers' Party, also claimed Monday that owls had been weeping at the Dec. 5 Youth Mine each day since Kim's death.

   "Owls flew in through the windows of the condolence venue and added to the commemorating feelings of the grieving people," it said.

   Last week, the paper quoted weather officials as saying that tremors were felt on Mount Paekdu from Dec. 17-20 in an apparent response to Kim's death. North Korea claims the mountain is the sacred birthplace of the late leader.

   A soldier was quoted by the North's state television on Sunday, saying that he saw a tree budding in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

   The official Korean Central News Agency reported last week that residents near the inter-Korean border saw a "series of blinding blue flashes accompanied by thunder" on Wednesday. These occurred in five-minute intervals during heavy snowfall between the hours of 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., it said. The English-language dispatch was titled "Even nature seems to mourn demise of great man."

   "Witnessing this, citizens of the city said that the demise of Kim Jong-il was so heart-rending that even the sky seemed to writhe in grief," the dispatch said.

   hague@yna.co.kr
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