People in North Korea have reportedly been banned from laughing during another draconian mourning period imposed by their rulers.
Leader Kim Jong Un marked the 10th anniversary of the death of his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il on Friday, but ordinary people have spoken out about the grim reality for them.
The anniversary means the mourning period has been extended from 10 to 11 days this year – but residents say additional repression actually began before the anniversary.
One told Radio Free Asian’s Korean Service: ‘During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities.’
The unnamed resident of the northeastern city of Sinuiju, close to the Chinese border, added that grocery shopping is also prohibited on December 17, the day the former leader died in 2011.
They continued: ‘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.’
The supreme attended a ceremony with top officials at a palace where his father’s body lies in state while people across the country held commemorations.
Kim Jong Il, the second of the Kim family dynasty, had ruled North Korea for 17 years until his death.