My friend wore a suit underneath his leather jacket. He even wore a tie, which I had never seen him wear before. It seemed strange – usually when I saw him he preferred to wear casual clothes to class. I knew that in his country, formal attire was normal for university students, but he had been in
for two years, and had, in his own words, “let himself go”. Recent events, however, made him decide that he should go back to acting the way his countrymen should. China
He explained to me that someone important to him had died, and he had been in mourning since last Monday. He had even missed classes on Tuesday due to grief. Even now, he said, he often had to fight the urge to cry. He explained to me that the one who had died had helped him a lot: it was only by the grace of this person that he was able to study in a foreign country. Even talking to me in private, he still called this person “great”.
My friend wished that he could return home for the funeral, but alas, he had been told by those in authority that as exams were approaching, he should instead focus on his studies. They told him that education was vital for the future of his country, and he should not jeopardise it, even for this. Others who had requested to return home to mourn were told the same thing.
He believed that nobody in
really understood the depth and veracity of his feelings, and who really could? After all, the person he mourned was Kim Jong Il, and while he himself believed in the scenes of grief coming out of China , very few around him did. You see, my friend is from North Korea, and even though he is not in his own country, he is still loyal to his country and his leader, and the death of his leader has inspired him even more to be a true North Korean. Pyongyang