Mourning and Ideology
More to the point, if you’re old enough to remember it, think back to the relentless outpouring of media grief following the death of Princess Diana of Angleterre, whose most significant lifetime accomplishment was getting married. At least Kim Jong-il was actually leading his country, and had some kind of political-historical significance. What do you suppose a North Korean would have made of video showing all of England paralyzed and sobbing at the sight of Elton John crooning “Candle In the Wind” at Diana’s funeral (a song, let us note, originally written to mark the overdose death of a Playboy bunny).
Affect doesn’t correspond to rationality; it doesn’t correspond to good sense. It does, however, correspond profoundly with the ideological systems which help us make sense of our emotions and sensations, and which produce for us taxonomies of feeling that are socially mediated.
Having said that, nobody does Kim Jong-il quite like Margaret Cho.