It amazes me how people in the West, notably in the media, cannot get their heads around the seemingly excessive grieving of the North Koreans for their deceased leader and demi-god Kim Jong-il.
I have even read that the North Koreans have been brainwashed en masse. Doh!
Does anyone remember the excessive grieving here for Princess Diana? People crying and mourning for someone they had never even met. You couldn't laugh in public for a week without attracting glares and tuts from these 'normal' mourners.
By all accounts there is very little in North Korea to celebrate - it doesn't have our culture of celebrity, no Royal family, nor our extended 'free' media - but it did have the cult of personality in its demi-god Kim Jong-il.
Can you imagine being fixated on one man, one leader, one demi-god (a family business as the BBC called it). It's taken us over 2,000 years and we still haven't got over the death of Jesus Christ and mourn/celebrate it every year.
Son of God or demi-god. Forget their actions and motives, forget our ability to mythologise, to many casual observers both are mortal men, homo-sapiens, like Derren Brown or Walt Disney or David Jones.
Are we brainwashed too, but just too unaware to notice? Brainwashed by a media re-presenting, mythologising and eulogising, a political establishment repetition, a capitalistic conformity.
We seem to be okay with our own sense of normality - the Orwellian wars with the bearded peoples (is this revenge for Diana's infidelity?); our constant polluting of our environment; factory farming and over-fishing; rendition and torture, our love affair with money - the banks are still going, we still support them, our hopes are tethered to them, but we knew long before the crash, cuts and recession that the City was the greatest confidence trick ever performed. So good they still do it and we hardly blink.
"Walk in line, step right this way, the gas chamber is just on your left, please leave your possessions in the box on the right" - ordinary, 'normal' Germans directed, industrialised and nodded consent to mass slaughter and attempted genocide. They were brainwashed too.
We should be careful of what our normal is, and really shouldn't be so arrogant towards the North Koreans and their grief - imagined, brainwashed or otherwise.