As North Korea mourns, leaders try to tie Kim Jong-un to his grandfather

The World

The pageantry of the funeral procession for North Korea's Kim Jong-il reminded many North Korean defectors of the pageantry associated with the funeral of Kim Il-sung, the nation's first leader. (Photo from Reuters video.)

Tens of thousands of North Koreans came out in bitter cold Wednesday to watch the funeral procession of departed leader Kim Jong-il.

North Korea’s next leader, Kim Jong-un, escorted his father’s hearse in an elaborate state service. Lee Hyeon Seo watched some of the funeral during lunch at a restaurant in Seoul run by North Korean refugees. Lee left North Korea in 1996 when she was 14.

Lee, who’s now 29, said watching the funeral procession, reminded her of when Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il’s father and North Korea's first leader, died in 1994.

“I was only 12 at the time, but I remember it being really shocking,” Lee said. “When I arrived at school, everyone was crying. I felt if I didn’t cry, then people would look at me strangely, so I just pretended. Now I’ve met other North Korean defectors who say they felt the same way too back then. I thought I was the only one who faked crying.”

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