Kim’s Death Sees Songs and Ten Days of Mourning

The North Korean authorities have declared
a ten-day period of mourning to mark the anniversary of the
death of Kim Il Sung twenty years ago on July 8th, 1994. According to sources inside
the country, state-run organizations and workplaces are organizing various memorial
events for the period, which runs until July 10th.

“This year is the twentieth since
the passing of the Suryeong [Kim Il
Sung], and it is an important year,” a source from Hyesan reported to Daily NK
earlier today. “Therefore, they are preparing larger events here. It includes
the organization of a ‘memorial chorus ensemble.’”

This time of year always sees lectures and
study sessions to restate the greatness of Kim Il Sung, as well as remembrance
events to commemorate his passing. However, as this year is an important fifth year in
the cycle (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.), the source said that North Korean people knew that there
would be more events than in other years.

Currently, the chorus ensemble in Hyesan is
practicing, while enterprises all around the city are holding memorial events at
the end of the working day.  “Nowadays
people are having a hard time,” she asserted, “as events related to the passing of
the Suryeong are going on every single day in the Democratic Women’s Union
and workplaces alike. People really need to be out there trading and earning a living.”

However, “Nobody is complaining about it, maybe
ever since the purge of Jang Song Taek last year, if you picked a fight
they’d just drag you away.”

“If you were to raise objections at a time like
this it would become a political problem and you could get punished,” she went
on, “so people keep quiet. Even old people, who would normally just talk about
being old and thus not participate, are taking active part, saying that although
they can’t sing any more they can still watch the young ones.”

At the other end of the age spectrum, plenty of young
children are being mobilized to take part in performances of commemorative
songs, the source said. “If this were any other kind of event they would
already be complaining,” she concluded. “But they are out there saying ‘It’s
ok’ and getting on with it.”

In the source’s analysis, the active
participation of citizens throughout all age demographics is symbolic of the
psychological stress felt throughout society since the end of last year. In
particular, she said that the presence of people who would probably have sought to
excuse themselves in most other years is a direct effect of the repressive surveillance and
controls that have been felt in society throughout 2014.

Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to