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King of Pop Was Known Worldwide

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reaction to Michael Jackson's death has been a global phenomenon. Here is a sampling:

In Britain

Pictures of Jackson graced the covers of nine British newspapers Friday, while in London, 500 fans flocked to the Liverpool Street subway station for a coordinated moonwalk at exactly 6:15 p.m.

Other Jackson fans clustered outside a downtown theater playing "Thriller -- Live," a musical homage to the King of Pop. The producer said that before the show, the lights would be dimmed and there would be a moment of silence. Others laid flowers outside O2 Arena, where Jackson was scheduled to perform 50 concerts starting next month.

Meanwhile, in Glastonbury at an outdoor music festival, fans played Jackson songs in tents and stalls. Festival headliners, including Bruce Springsteen, are expected to perform tributes over the weekend.

-- Karla Adam

In Nigeria

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, a conservative Muslim metropolis, there was scant outward mourning for Jackson. At one outdoor bar, televisions showed professional wrestling and speakers thumped local pop music. But at a table of writers downing dark brews, talk turned to the unexpected death.

It was a morphine injection said one writer, who then wondered why Americans are attracted to drugs. Another speculated that it was Jackson's affinity for "artificial body parts" that did him in. Desmond Mgboh said early-childhood fame had turned Jackson into a "commodity," sentencing him to a life of too much pressure.

"He lived beyond his years. He lived too fast," Mgboh said. "Look at his brothers. He had more money, more fame. And he died first!"

-- Karin Brulliard

In India

Vipin Gurung, 26, who manages the international music section at a popular store called Music Land in New Delhi, says he "immediately text-messaged 'the legend is dead' to all my friends." ". . . My life's very first international music cassette was 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson. I was 10 when I asked my mother to buy it for me. That was the album I began my musical journey with. And look where it has brought me. I am now managing international music section at this shop."

-- Rama Lashmi

In France

Jackson's death provoked an outpouring of commentary from French political and literary figures ascribing deep meaning to his life and antics.

Culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand said that by its suddenness and mystery, Jackson's death had mythical qualities such as those of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. "We all have a little of Michael Jackson in us," he added.

One of Mitterrand's predecessors, Jack Lang, said Jackson was among the world's few universal stars and seemed destined to be a permanent part of the planet's culture. "We thought he was eternal," Lang said.

French all-news television stations broadcast generous coverage of clips of Jackson's performances, and of fans gathered to mourn his death. Several hundred people were at Notre Dame on Friday evening to celebrate his music.

A cafe waiter on the fashionable Boulevard Saint-Germain, who was shown a Page 1 photo of Jackson and a large headline announcing his death, turned away with his tray and snorted, "Humph, we're not going to cry about that, are we?"

-- Edward Cody

In Iran

As Jackson's death reverberated through Tehran, the election violence was forgotten for some minutes.

One hardcore fan, and semi-famous Jackson impersonator, was especially struck. "I am extremely worried about the faith of my country, in this period of chaos and death, but now I am also devastated by the death of my idol, Michael Jackson," said Ali, 29, who did not want to give his family name in a phone interview.

Nicknamed Ali Jackson, he livens up family parties by perfectly mimicking many of the singer's complicated dance moves, including the moonwalk.

"People in Iran get really happy when I danced on songs of albums like 'Off the Wall' and 'Bad,' " he said. "It would give them energy and show that we are also a part of the world, in our isolated country."

-- Thomas Erdbrink

In South Korea

"The world has lost a hero," said former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for improving relations with North Korea. "And Korea also lost a beloved friend. . . . I am especially shocked for having lost a friend, with whom I have shared friendship."

In 1998, Jackson attended the inauguration ceremony for Kim, the first opposition politician to have been elected and who developed closer ties with the North during his term.

Jackson paid four official visits to South Korea, of which two were for performances. His first solo performance was in 1996, and demonstrators protested him because he faced child-sexual-abuse allegations.

-- Stella Kim

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