North Korean citizens cannot laugh for 11 days under an order by the country’s authoritarian leader, Kim Jong-un, as the country mourns his father, Kim Jong-il, on the 10th anniversary of his death.
“During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities,” said a resident of the northeastern city of Sinuiju in an interview with Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service.
In addition, North Koreans could not even shop for groceries on the actual anniversary of the late Kim’s death, which was Friday, Dec. 17.
“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,” the resident told RFA.
“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,” the resident added.
According to video released by the regime, Kim Jong-un is seen dressed in “his trendy black leather trench coat…as he stood beneath a large red banner emblazoned with an image of his dad, who died in 2011,” the New York Post reported.
North Koreans who attended the ceremony at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in the capital of Pyongyang were seen standing in silence and bowing toward the elder Kim’s image as a siren blasted for three minutes at midday.
A band played as well, and throngs of North Korean citizens and military personnel stood in perfect cadres and columns as they honored the late leader.
“Cars, trains and ships blew their horns, the Hermit Kingdom’s flags were lowered to half-staff and people flocked to Pyongyang’s Mansu Hill to lay flowers and bow before giant statues of Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, who ruled for 46 years,” The Post added.
One North Korean official, Choe Ryong Hae, described the older Kim, who ruled the country for 17 years, as “the parent of our people” while praising him for building up the military and the economy.
Meanwhile, the younger Kim, who has been in charge since his father’s death, built and expanded North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal, with Choe describing it as “a powerful treasured sword” that deters potential aggressors, especially the United States.
In recent years, North Korea performed 62 rounds of ballistic missile tests, though Kim Jong-un agreed to cease them during former President Donald Trump’s administration as he attempted to negotiate peace with the Hermit Kingdom. Technically, the U.S. and North Korea remain at war.
The Post noted as well that according to the RFA, Kim has banned citizens from copying his fashion styles, including so-called ‘fashion police’ who have reportedly stopped citizens on the street and confiscated their leather jacket knockoffs while also raiding vendors who sell them.
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