North Korea has banned its citizens from laughing, shopping or drinking, as part of a 11-day mourning period starting today on the tenth death anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il. Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea from 1994 to 2011, before being succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un. Radio Free Asia quoted a North Korean from the north-eastern border city of Sinuiju as saying that apart from drinking alcohol and laughing, partaking in leisure activities is also banned during this period. On the day of the anniversary, grocery shopping stands banned too.
The RFA source further said that in the past when people were found to be flouting these rules, they were treated as “ideological criminals” who were “taken away and never seen again”. According to them, people are not allowed to cry out loud during the mourning period even if a family member passes away.
The source added that birthdays are also not to be celebrated during the time. A second source from the western province of South Hwanghae told RFA that police are on the lookout for people who don’t appear to be sufficiently grieving, and a mandate to crack down on those who “harm the mood of collective mourning” from the start of December. The source said that this is a special duty for the police for this month, adding that they heard law enforcement officials are not to sleep at all.
Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un put a ban on wearing skinny jeans, sporting mullet hairstyles and some body piercings keeping in line with the country’s crackdown on ‘capitalistic lifestyle’ and Western influences on youths. The state run newspaper had recently warned the nation of doing more to stop “capitalistic culture from seeping into the country”, as was reported by South Korean broadcaster Yonhap news agency.
Recently, it was reported that North Korean authorities banned leather trench coats for its people since it became a style staple for ruler Kim Jong-Un. Daily Mail reported that the leather coat was first worn by the leader in 2019, after which it became popular among North Korea’s elite class eager to show their allegiance to him as among those who could afford real leather. Of late, however, knock-offs of the coat had become popular. Merchants selling them and people wearing them are now facing crackdown from authorities. As per an International Business Times report, the item had also become popular among women after Kim’s sister Yo Jong was seen wearing one in November. The crackdown has been imposed on cheap imitations of the fashion item. Sources familiar with the matter told Radio Free Asia that wearing these knock-offs was “an impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity”.