Apparently Dear Leader couldn’t control the weather.
For a correspondent who witnessed the funeral in 1994 for Kim Il Sung, the long ruling “great leader,” the funeral for his son, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was, if not exactly déjà vu, at least familiar.
It was as though whoever planned Wednesday’s display on the broad streets and squares of Pyongyang simply copied it from the playbook of that funeral 17 years and five months ago for the founder of the dynasty.
Except, however, for two notable differences.
Back in 1994, the skies were clear, and the trees lining the streets burst with green foliage as the cortege bearing Kim Il Sung’s coffin slowly wended its way along the 25-mile route past soaring monuments and Stalinesque apartment blocks to its final resting place in the memorial hall on a broad hill overlooking the city.
People along the way wore short-sleeved shirts, looking almost casual and maybe even a bit festive, but for the sad expressions they had to display for state TV cameras.
The setting today was so grim and depressing, downright funereal, that it could have come from a Hollywood drama of an awful day in Pyongyang.
A light snow was falling, the skies were a dull shade of grey. As in 1994, soldiers goose-stepped in uniform, and then bowed in silent tribute. But the wailing and tears of the people along the route seemed a little more genuine than last time.
The spectacle seemed to show just how oppressive and overpowering had been the rule of this man who enjoyed Hennessy cognac and the company of Swedish women, while his people starved in silence, on pain of execution or life in the vast gulag system.