As North Korea marks the 10th anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il’s death on 17 December, citizens will be forced to follow strict rules as part of an 11-day mourning period.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that residents must refrain from drinking alcohol, shopping and even laughing during the time period.
Kim Jong-il was the second supreme leader of North Korea from 1994 to 2011, when he passed away aged 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 extra 24 hours to mark the tenth anniversary of the former leader’s death.
Speaking to RFA, a North Korean from the north-eastern border city of Sinuiju said:
“During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities.”
They explained that many activities are off the cards, especially on the anniversary day itself when even grocery shopping is banned.
“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.
“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.”
A second source – a resident from the western province of South Hwanghae – revealed that police were warned in advance to look out for people who don’t appear to be grieving.
They said: “From the first day of December, they will have a special duty to crack down on those who harm the mood of collective mourning.
“It’s a month-long special duty for the police. I heard that law enforcement officials cannot sleep at all.”