Friday, August 29, 2003

Another peculiar scene with the North Korean cheerleaders unfolded Thursday as they noticed, while riding back from an archery competition, welcome banners with the image of their leader Kim Jong Il in conditions they didn't like.

The women, after demanding that their buses stop, protested in anger and shed tears before taking four banners down and carrying them away. . . .

Then about 30-40 of them ran the 300-500 meters back to where the banners were. Protesting, they pointed out apparent horrors such as that a seal was stamped on Kim Jong Il's image, that the banners were hanging too low, that they were beside a scarecrow and that they had been left to the mercy of the rain and wind.

Several of the women, helping each other, managed to climb up a two-meter tree and pull down the four banners. They rolled them up, making sure to keep the images still visible, and carried them reverently back to the bus, while weeping out loud. About 10 of them also wrested a camera away from a South Korean reporter who was on the scene.

A South Korean police officer who saw the tail end of the spectacle said, "The North Korean supporters were wailing loudly as they got on the bus, like women who had just lost their husbands. People who were at the scene were saying that it was beyond their comprehension, and some even said it gave them the chills."

It is hard to know exactly what to make of this. Fear that simply allowing such desecration of the Dear Leader to continue uncorrected might end up landing them and/or their families in a North Korean gulag? Genuine rage and hurt at such insensitivity toward the figure who is a "contemporary God," "superior to Christ in love, superior to Buddha in benevolence, superior to Confucius in virtue, and superior to Mohammed in justice" and "the savior of mankind"? Now that I think about it, this gives me the chills too.

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