North Korea has declared a seven-day period of mourning to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il, during which no singing, drinking, or rejoicing will be permitted.
The government has ordered its citizens to reflect solemnly on the late ‘Dear Leader,’ the father of current leader Kim Jong Un, who died on December 17, 2011.
The time of mourning began on Wednesday and will finish on December 20.
“You must never drink alcohol or engage in entertainment such as singing or drinking during the memorial period,” a resident of the northern province of Ryanggang told Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service on Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to security concerns.
Furthermore, significant life events like as coming-of-age rituals, marriages, funerals, and even jesa, the rite to commemorate the deceased, are expected to be toned down or avoided.
“The atmosphere of fear that controls and pressures the residents will be strong during the commemoration period. If you do not watch yourself and are not careful during this time, you may get into serious trouble.” the source said.
Authorities have also warned individuals not to make political remarks or criticize the government during the period, and have stated that secret agents will be on the lookout.
Movement around the country would also be more limited than usual, and paying authorities for travel visas would be practically difficult during the mourning period, according to the source.
Residents in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong were told to ‘be careful about what [they] say and do’ during the mourning period, a resident there told RFA on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
According to the second source, in addition to the directions to act politely and refrain from criticizing or complaining about the authorities, the central government directed the neighborhood watch groups to increase their monitoring of the public.
“Documentaries about Kim Jong Il’s achievements and his love for the people are being aired on television every day. Various memorial-related events such as museum visits, intensive lectures, and commemorative lectures are continuously being held, but they always end with a theme of endless loyalty to Kim Jong Un.
December is also the birth month of Kim Jong Il’s mother, Kim Jong Sook, and she also has commemorative events, so the people find the focus on the Kim Dynasty this time of year to be exhausting” the second source said.