The response of the North Korean people is said to be ‘half-hearted’ towards Kim Jong Il’s death in comparison to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994.
North Korea’s disclosure of the commemoration schedule via domestic and foreign media outlets and inside sources is quite different to the situation at the time of the death of Kim Il Sung, North Korean defectors say.
The North Korean authorities, immediately before the announcement of the death of Kim Jong Il, mobilized state news agencies and sent out a notification that there was to be a ‘special broadcast’, this was followed with a video clip of field guidance of Kim Jong il. Just after the announcement of the death, state agencies broadcast images of people mourning over the leader, creating a somber atmosphere.
The day before, the North Korean authorities directed border guards to ‘close the border’ and mobilized the military and domestic security forces to control the movements of the people. This has been interpreted as a move to prevent unrest.
According to Daily NK sources and defectors, meanwhile, the response of the people is clearly different than it was for Kim Il Sung. Under Kim Il Sung’s regime, people believed in the propaganda and their mourning was sincere and genuine.
Conversely, distrust has affected the commemorative atmosphere for Kim Jong Il. A source from Hoeryeong in North Hamkyung Province said, “The people are more worried about the future of the country.”
“People will feel relieved that the suffocating rule of Kim Jong Il is over, rather than grief for the leader, they will think to themselves that ‘peace has finally come’,” a defector who arrived in South Korea in 2011 commented.
A Musan source added, “When the Great Leader died the people did not feel anxious, because they had the General. But now everyone is worried about the future of the country more than saddened about the death of the General.”
An Onsung source emphazied, “When Kim Il Sung died the people did not feel anxious because Kim Jong Il was trained well from a young age, but Kim Jong Eun does not understand the regime well.”