The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea has banned its citizens from laughing, shopping, and drinking from Friday onwards as a part of 11-day mourning on the 10th anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il.
Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea from 1994 to 2011. He died due to a heart attack at the age of 69 on December 17, 2011. He was succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un. According to Radio Free Asia, all leisure activities have been banned for the next 11 days. If anyone breaks the rule will be arrested on sight.
“During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities,” a resident of the northeastern Korean border city of Sinuiju, told Radio Free Asia.
“Even if your family member dies during the mourning period, you are not allowed to cry out loud and the body must be taken out after it’s over. People cannot even celebrate their own birthdays if they fall within the mourning period,” a resident added.
Every year since his father’s death, Kim pays respects at the memorial of his father. Kim Jong Un paid respects at a mausoleum where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il lies in the state along with that of Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un also convened national meetings honouring his father during some previous milestone anniversaries such as the first and fifth ones.
This year, the mourning period has been extended to 11 days as this is the 10th death anniversary. Generally, a 10-day mourning period is observed every year.
In the past many people who were caught drinking or being intoxicated during the mourning period were arrested and treated as ideological criminals. They were taken away and never seen again – a source quoted by RFA said.
This time, state-run newspapers published articles venerating Kim Jong Il and calling for greater unity behind Kim Jong Un, while state TV aired propaganda songs and documentary films on the late leader.
“Great leader and comrade Kim Jong Il is always with us … and he is the eternal suryong’ and sun of juche (self-reliance)’ of our party and revolution,” the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial, referring to a revered title reserved for North Korean leaders.
Without mentioning the current difficulties, the paper said that “We should make our every effort to bolster our single-minded unity … by standing united behind respected comrade Kim Jong Un.”
Besides, ordinary citizens offered flowers and paid homage before giant bronze statues of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung at Pyongyang’s Mansu Hill.
In his 10 years at the helm of North Korea since his father’s death, Kim Jong Un, 37, has secured the same absolute power enjoyed by Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather, and state founder.
Despite massive economic shocks caused by draconian rules and longstanding rivalry with the United States, North Korea shows no signs of political instability. However, the long-term stability of Kim Jong Un’s rule could still be questioned if he fails to work out steps to address the ongoing difficulties and improve public livelihoods, some observers say.