Vast crowds, some reports said up to a million people gathered in Pyongyang’s central Kim Il-sung square to observe the end of an official period of mourning for the late Kim Jon Il. The 3-hour funeral was filled with mourners weeping and beating their chests while many South Korean celebrated. Interestingly, the hearse used to transport the North Korean’s beloved leader was a 1976 fifth generation Lincoln Continental although Jong Il was a Mercedes-Benz die-hard fan.
While North Korea is a nation with per-capita GDP of only $1,900 the late Kim Jong Il actually enjoyed his life to the fullest with one defector claimed the dictator’s personal expenses added up to 20% of the nation’s budget. He was even reportedly to have $4 billion stashed in European Banks. He prefers Omega watches, Perrier bottled water, Martell Cognac and wears only Italian Moreschi shoes. While the general population of North Korea were starving, Kim Jong Il was said to “eat only foreign food”, not to mention his lavish shopping in Europe.
Sanctions or not, Kim Jong Il glugged down $500,000 in cognac a year, along with truckloads of lobster and beluga caviar. The country was the largest recipient of food aid with an estimated four million North Koreans starved to death since 1995. However Kim Jong Il spent $20 million out of $80 million in humanitarian relief funds on Mercedes Benz automobiles in one year alone. Kim spent the $20 million importing 200 of the latest and costliest Mercedes, not bad for a dictator for such a poor country.
But Kim Jong Il has done a great job in isolating North Korean from the outside world, if the number of people who endured freezing temperatures in Pyongyang to bid farewell to the dictator, is any indicator to gauge how much the people love him. The capital’s citizens had been mobilised to clear snow from the funeral cortege’s 40km route from the Kumsusan memorial palace. The state media used the snowy weather to bolster myths about Kim Jong-il’s birth in a log cabin on the Korean peninsula’s highest peak, Mount Paektu.
“The feathery snowfall reminds the Korean people of the snowy day when the leader was born in the secret camp of Mount Paektu and of the great revolutionary career that he followed through snowdrifts … It seems the sky knows well of how much he got snowed on during his uninterrupted field guidance tour for the happiness of the people … A national tragedy has occurred … How could the sky not cry? The people are all crying tears of blood. “ the Korea Central News Agency said.
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