North Korean leader's last ride was on a Lincoln

The North Korean hearses bore Lincoln's unique stylized compass on the hood.

Photo credit: REUTERS
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In life, North Korea's Kim Jong Il ranted against the running-dog capitalists of the United States.

But the Dear Leader rode to his final resting place atop a conspicuous product of American industry -- a 1975 or 1976 Lincoln Continental limousine hearse.

Unlike some of North Korea's slanted, often gruesome anti-American propaganda posters, the funeral photographs do not lie. As mourners wailed hysterically by the road, a procession of unmistakable luxury limos rolled past. First came the Lincoln bearing Kim's flag-draped coffin on the roof. A second Lincoln limousine bore a giant poster with a likeness of the Dear Leader; and a third, an enormous funeral wreath.

The hearses bore Lincoln's unique stylized compass design on the hood, so the cars were not knockoffs.

Obviously, the Dear Leader was a closet fan of the culture of the country that he and his father loved to hate. The Dear Leader was said to have a collection of more than 20,000 Hollywood films.

Memo to Lincoln's current leadership team: Kim Jong Il might not be the kind of smart, savvy luxury customer you're looking for these days. But his funeral cortege serves as a reminder of an era when Lincoln rivaled Rolls-Royce as a conveyance of choice for the highest and mightiest leaders all around the world.

For more photos of today's funeral, click here.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.

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