Christmas (Eve) for North Korea

Thursday 25th December, 2014

While many in the rest of the world know Dec 24 as Christmas Eve – and some may now be able to to watch “The Interview” on Christmas day – it’s different in North Korea. While we are free to debate the issues, North Koreans live within a system whose overseers isolate their people’s access to the outside world, desiring – for the sake of concentrated power – to retain control over every narrative and all legitimacy of information, in order to maintain the cult of Kim as the identity of the North Korean people.

This is because the current regime’s physical and psychological control mechanisms over its people are pivoted on this.

So what actually happens on Christmas Eve in North Korea? It’s not the day before Christmas, but the birthday of Kim Jong Il’s mother, Kim Jong Suk. It’s also the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s ratification as Supreme Commander at the 19th session of the 6th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, a day which marked a beginning of the dominance of North Korea’s Songun (“Military First”) Policy.

On December 24th all North Koreans must celebrate the Kim dynasty, and the matter is not up for debate.

Platoon by platoon among the military, and according to each workplace assignment among civilians, it is compulsory for each and every North Korean to take part in events praising the Kim family on this day. If anyone fails to do so, without special leave to participate in such state mobilisation events for the praise of Kim, they will not only be sentenced, without exception, to a group humiliation and criticism session, but also face punitive action from their military or civilian supervisors.

But while North Korea emphasises propaganda of Kim Jong Suk as Kim Jong Il’s mother and “the mother of the Mount Baekdu bloodline”, it has not yet formally observed the dates of birth or death of Ko Young Hui, the mother of Kim Jong Un and third wife of Kim Jong Il.

On Dec 23, ahead of the 97th anniversary of Kim Jong Suk’s birth, the ruling party’s mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun published a detailed travelogue about visiting the place of her birth, describing her guerrilla warfare and revolutionary activities alongside Kim Il Sung, under a title referring to “a vibrant faith of those who will defend the Supreme Leader to the death”.

We wish our readers a merry Christmas – and for the people of North Korea, the freedoms of choice that some of us too easily take for granted.

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