On Monday, two countries mourned their deceased leaders -- while North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Czech Republic's Václav Havel were very different men, they were similar in their larger-than-life personae.
Kim was a dictator who fictionalized his past -- claiming, among other things, that he was born atop a mountain and was greeted by the universe with a new star and a double rainbow. Former Czech President Havel, on the other hand, was a playwright and poet who moved from fiction into the political discourse.
Although both carried the title revolutionary, only Havel truly devoted himself to change. As one of the leaders of the 'Velvet Revolution,' Havel helped launched the non-violent revolution that dismantled the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and ushered in a new democracy.
Both the North Korean and Czech people gathered en mass to grieve for the departed statesmen.
Having retired from politics, Havel's death has little effect on the current political state of the Czech Republic. However, since leaving office Havel had been working with the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation to promote tolerance in Europe, as well as writing new plays.
Kim's death has already had an international effect. Asian markets experienced a significant drop as a result on Monday, revealing a broader concern that the leader's passing could have a detrimental effect on regional politics.
Replacing Kim as the supreme leader is his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un had only just begun being groomed for the position, and his leadership abilities are questionable. The inexperienced mid-to-late- 20-year-old was made a four-star general last year but has almost no political or military experience, unlike his father when he came to power.
The first question for the untested regime will be if Kim Jong-un can maintain the totalitarian power held by his father Kim Jong-il and his grandfather Kim il-Sung, and if the Communist infrastructure will support him.
Kim Jong-un may decide that the best way to answer those questions is with a military message. On the news of Kim Jong-il's death, South Korea went into military alert, fearing that its northern neighbor would launch a strike. North Korea did test fire a number of short-range missiles on Monday, although there's no apparent link to Kim Jong-il's death.
All the more worrisome, North Korea's supposed nuclear weapons are now in the hands of a person that the rest of the world has no information about.
Two Leaders Die
Kim died of severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack while on a train on Saturday, according to the North Korean government.
Much of his personal life was cloaked in secrecy, but Kim is believed to have been sick for many years and possibly suffered a stroke in 2008.
Havel, who was ill, died on Sunday at his country home in Hráde?ek. Thousands of mourners attended his funeral in Prague on Monday, and his passing was lamented by world leaders such as President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Polish President Lech Wa??sa.
Havel was in office from 1989 until 2003.