North Korean state media had its work cut out for it Saturday when its dear leader died of an alleged heart attack while traveling on a train. With only two leaders in the past 63 years, the nation's media apparatus isn't particularly accustomed to this type of national emergency. Thus far, the controlled message from state TV and KCNA has been of grave mourning and renewed resolve.
Effusive weeping The most arresting images coming from state TV are scenes of Koreans shouting, screaming and weeping in the streets. The following state TV footage shows a range of average citizens and military officials hysterically morning Kim Jong-il's death. "How could the heavens be so cruel? Please come back, general. We cannot believe you're gone," a visibly shaking Hong Son Ok said to state tv broadcaster.
In another video, Koreans have lined up in the streets, in a seemingly-choreographed mourning process, with other scenes of Koreans pounding their fists on the ground in agony.
Korean Central News Agency The English-language version of Korea's KCNA state news website has been noticeably silent since Dec. 17, when the Dear Leader reportedly died. As you can see from its homepage, it hasn't published anything in English related to Kim's death or any other news in general.
At the same time, KCNA has been very active on the homefront. It was there that the leader's death was first reported due to "great mental physical strain" while riding on a train during a "high intensity field inspection."
As The Washington Post reports, the state-run media has been encouraging perseverance and resolve, noting the succession of Kim's youngest son Kim Jong Eun. “Under the leadership of Kim Jong Eun,” state media reported, “we should turn our sorrow into strength.” The country's National Funeral Committee, via state outlets, has also urged resolve, reports CNN. "We should increase the country's military capability in every way to reliably safeguard the Korean socialist system and the gains of revolution," the National Funeral Committee said.
Emphasizing the use of fonts, The Washington Post reports that "On Monday, as Pyongyang’s official news agency urged loyalty to Kim Jong Eun, the online news announcement used a special, enlarged font for the names of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. It used the regular font for Kim Jong Eun."
Then of course there was the highly emotional reading of Kim's death by a weeping newscaster on state media Monday morning. For a country famous for repression, you certainly can't fault the media for repressing emotions.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.