As North Korea marks the 10th anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il today (December 17), citizens will be forced to follow strict rules amid a period of mourning of 11 days.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that residents should refrain from drinking alcohol, shopping and even laughing during the period.
Kim Jong-il was North Korea’s second supreme leader from 1994 to 2011, when he passed away at the age of 70 and was succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un.
Although the government normally enforces a ten-day mourning period, this year it has been extended by an additional 24 hours to mark the tenth anniversary of the former leader’s death.
Speaking to RFA, a North Korean from the northeastern border town of Sinuiju said, “During the time of mourning, we should not drink alcohol, laugh or participate in leisure activities.”
They explained that many activities are not planned, especially on birthday, when even grocery shopping is prohibited.
They explained: “In the past, many people caught drinking or being intoxicated during the period of mourning were arrested and treated as ideological criminals.
“They were taken away and were never seen again.
“Even if a member of your family dies during the mourning period, you are not allowed to scream out loud and the body must be removed when finished.
“People can’t even celebrate their own birthday if it falls into the mourning period.”
A second source — a resident of western South Hwanghae Province — revealed that police were warned in advance to be careful of people who did not appear to be in mourning.
They declared: “From the first day of December, they will have a particular duty to crack down on those who harm the atmosphere of collective mourning.
“This is a one-month special mission for the police. I heard that the police cannot sleep at all.”
The publication went on to explain that state-owned enterprises and citizens’ groups are responsible for caring for those who live in poverty and lack food.
The second source explained, “Social order and safety must be guaranteed, so companies are responsible for collecting food to give to residents and employees who cannot come to work due to food shortages.”
They added that “residents should also work together to help the kotjebi,” which is a North Korean term for homeless children.