A dramatic ceremony honoring a female traffic police officer in North Korea was broadcast on Japan’s NHK television network last week, grabbing the attention of China’s Internet population.


An unnamed female traffic police officer in Pyongyang was honored for protecting a senior official’s safety. The woman was given the highest honor in North Korea, the Hero of the Republic award.

While the ceremony was celebratory, the tone was official and serious, with uniformed soldiers and crowds of people in attendance to show support.

The official ceremony had seas of uniformed soldiers lining the traffic cop’s walkway while she carried a bouquet of flowers with her award. An entourage of similarly dressed women in uniform applauded her as she waved to cameras and the adoring crowd.  


While North Koreans seemed to react with pride, clapping alongside the newly minted “hero,” many in China thought the entire ceremony was laughable.


After Chinese Internet news outlet NetEase published the story with accompanying photos, many Chinese commenters did not hold back on criticism.

“Fifty years ago, we too were this pathetic,” one commenter said, noting the woman’s theatrical reaction to the bureaucratic award.

“The brainwashing is crazy! She probably wouldn’t cry like that even if her father died! Well, maybe when Father Kim died,” another Chinese netizen said, reflecting on the late leader’s personality cult.

The reaction by the woman, though melodramatic and too intense for many Chinese, was somewhat expected. Particularly in large, public events, North Korea’s government expects to see a certain degree of unfailing worship, gratitude and pride for the nation and its leaders, which makes crying a very appropriate reaction.

“Knowing how to cry in North Korea is like knowing how to play stupid in the Heavenly Kingdom [China]. It’s kind of a basic survival skill.”