North Korea marked the 10th anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong Il last Friday with a memorial service attended by thousands, including his son Kim Jong Un, state television footage showed.
What they didn’t show was that the country had apparently banned laughing and alcohol for eleven days, in honour of the late North Korean leader.
Kim Jong Il ruled North Korea for 17 years until his death in December 2011, passing on power to his son.
The current leader attended a memorial ceremony Friday at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum for Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung — the founder of North Korea.
Three generations of the Kim family have ruled the country since 1948.
North Koreans are taught from birth to revere Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and all adults wear badges depicting one or both men.
In footage aired by KCTV, Kim Jong Un was seen bowing before a large portrait of his father, standing on a platform overlooking what appeared to be thousands of people on the grounds of the palace.
Flags flew at half-mast mast on a freezing day in Pyongyang, where people marked the anniversary by bowing their heads in silence before portraits of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.
Others were seen bowing before a mosaic mural of the two Kims and leaving flowers.
North Korea‘s tightly controlled state media on Friday ran editorials praising Kim Jong Il’s “revolutionary leadership”, while urging people to remain devoted to his son.
“With respected leader Kim Jong Un at the centre, we must strengthen our party and revolutionary loyalty,” said Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party.
It further stressed that people should adhere “to the ideas and leadership” of Kim Jong Un.
Under the Kim family, North Korea has acquired long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, but its state-led economy has been mismanaged and there are chronic food shortages.
The country closed its borders last year to guard against the coronavirus but its economy has been badly hit by the self-imposed blockade — on top of the international sanctions over its weapons programmes.
Kim Jong Un has admitted there are hardships and warned people to prepare for the “worst-ever situation”.