North Korea Bans Laughter As It Mourns Kim Jong-il's Death

Damir Mujezinovic

The totalitarian government of North Korea has banned its citizens from laughing for 11 days as the country commemorates the 10-year anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il.

Kim Jong il, who is current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s father and predecessor, died on December 17, 2011 of a suspected heart attack while travelling by train to an area outside the country's capital city Pyongyang.

The North Korean cult of personality surrounding its ruling family has existed for decades and does not appear to be waning,

Laughter, Alcohol Banned

A resident of the northeastern city of Sinuiju told Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service that during this mourning period North Koreans "must not drink alcohol, laugh, or engage in leisure activities," according to The New York Post.

"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 person added, noting that even grocery shopping is banned on December 17.

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Radio Free Asia’s source added that crying is not allowed either.

"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," they said.

North Korean official Choe Ryong Hael, meanwhile, described Kim Jong-il as "the parent of our people" who built up the countries military and economy, as well as its nuclear arsenal.

Memorial Service

To commemorate his father's death, Kim Jong-un held a memorial service in Pyongyang and a ceremony outside the Kumusan Palace of the Sun. The despot appeared slimmer than ever and was photographed wearing his famous leather trench coat.

Citizens bowed before giant statues of Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sun and fell silent when sirens started blaring -- and they blared for three minutes straight. Cars, trains and ships blew their horns while all flags in the country were lowered to half-staff.

Kim Jong-un

Shutterstock | 2818561

As CNN reported, North Korea watchers believe Kim Jong-un was forced into retreat by the coronavirus pandemic and will reemerge soon.

Kim's government plans on further developing its military capabilities in the coming years, according to Ankit Panda, Stanton Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The diversification we're seeing in North Korea is puzzling considering the constrained resources in the country. What we see is really more than 10, around 15, potential nuclear delivery systems under development. It's really remarkable," Panda said.

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