In one of the oddest displays of international diplomacy involving deceased former despots and possible nuclear disarmament, China has given North Korea a majestic (and very creepy) wax figure of its late dear leader Kim Jong-Il wearing his signature parka. The figure, created by China's Great Man Wax Museum, is pretty eerie and something you probably don't want to find in your house in the middle of the night, and from the looks of it, it's looks like it is life-sized—Kim was 5-foot-3 (photo via Sina screenshot):
And they kind of nailed it (it's somewhat difficult to find a picture of Kim Jong-Il striking that exact pose with that exact smile, so this picture might have to do):
But back to the gift—North Koreans are going to love this (or umm, will be forced to love it) and the figure will be unveiled on July 27, the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Korean War. The timing of the gesture, as The Washington Post's Max Fisher points out, is a bit weird, considering North Korea suffered devastating losses in the war. But it's not that strange when you factor in North Korean propaganda. "North Korean official propaganda asserts that the war was actually launched by the United States and that it was a glorious victory for Kim Jong Il’s father and the leader at the time, Kim Il Sung," explains Fisher.
The gift comes at a time when China and North Korea are still working things out after North Korea's declarations of nuclear war this past year. North Korean diplomat Choe Ryong Hae had visited Beijing in May, and at the time China had strongly urged the country to stand down. And this gift could be a sign that China wants things to get better. "Zhang created a waxwork figure for Kim Il Sung and his wife in 1996 (see video at bottom of article). "With a Kim Jong Il figure added to the collection, analysts in South Korea are speculating that Sino-DPRK relations are showing a 'gradual recovery'" reports James Pearson at NK News. The collection of Chinese-made wax figures Pearson is referring to, includes a figure of Kim Jong Suk (the mother of Kim Jong-Il and grandmother of Kim Jong-Un) which was unveiled in 2009 (and which also went over really well):
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.