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North Korea bans laughing for 11 days of mourning for 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-Il’s death

On Friday, North Korea marked the 10th anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-Il’s death with a memorial service that was attended by his son and current leader, Kim Jong-Un, along with thousands of citizens. All North Koreans have been banned from laughing during the 11 day mourning period. 

Kim, who has led the country since his father’s death, attended the ceremony in his trademark leather trench coat. The memorial took place on Friday at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which is the mausoleum for Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the country.

Citizens have been banned from either laughing or drinking alcohol for the eleven day time of mourning in remembrance of the former ruler’s passing. “During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities,” said a North Korean to Radio Free Asia. 

Kim Jong-Il headed up North Korea for 17 years, from 1994 until he died in December 2011, when power was transferred to his son. Footage aired by KCTV showed Kim Jong-Un bowing before a portrait of his father as he stood on a platform looking over what looked like thousands of citizens.

Others were shown leaving flowers and bowing to a mosaic depiction of the two Kims, while some bowed their heads silently in front of portraits of both Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung. Flags flew at half-mast in Pyongyang. 

The country’s heavily controlled state media ran editorials praising the “revolutionary leadership” of Kim Jong-Il, urging people to stay dedicated to his son as leader. “With respected leader Kim Jong Un at the centre, we must strengthen our party and revolutionary loyalty,” the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party, read. It also stressed that citizens should cling “to the ideas and leadership” of Kim Jong-Un. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: INDEPENDENT

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