Well this is awkward. North Korean officials have sternly
invited demanded South Korea send a delegation to Kim Jong Il's funeral next week, and that not doing so would be "an unbearable insult and mockery of our dignity." According to The Guardian that "unbearable mockery" is something North Koreans will just have to deal with, as it reports the government in Seoul has no plans to send a delegation, though a select group of civilians will be allowed to attend despite South Korea's travel ban to the North. But it plays up the diplomatic dilemma of dealing with North Korea. In Pyongyang, Jong-Il is that swell guy sent from the heavens to fight the Japanese, bowl perfect games and whose death even causes nature to grieve. But to the rest of the world? Not so much. But diplomats don't always get to say what they think. The New York Times points out: "... both Seoul and Washington issued coordinated statements. They were careful to direct their 'sympathy' or 'prayers' to the 'North Korean people,' not to the regime, in contrast to Beijing and Moscow, which sent their official condolences to Pyongyang." As a United States Department spokesman puts it, "With regard to ‘the c word,’ I think we didn’t considerate it appropriate in this case." And there you have it, it only takes North Korea to make "condolence" a dirty word.