Here's a distubing look at the cult of personality North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il has built up around himself. While on a goodwill visit to South Korea, a gaggle of female North Korean cheerleaders went berserk when they saw some banners of their "Dear Leader" displayed without the appropriate dignity:
One banner had a picture of Kim Jong Il shaking hands with former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung at one end and a picture of the reunification flag at the other. In between was a message welcoming the North Korean athletes.
The women, who were in six separate buses, demanded that the vehicles stop. According to one bus driver, some even stepped on his right foot while trying to apply the brake themselves.
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."
Granted, it seems likely these women were handpicked for their loyalty to the ruling regime. It would be a real blow to the prestige of Kim Jung Il's regime were any of his nation's beauties to defect. But it does suggest the degree to which the tyrant holds his minions in thrall.
UPDATE: Turns out the NK cheerleaders are drawn from the ranks of Kim Jung-Il's harem.