North Koreans who hold or participate in wedding ceremonies in violation of North Korea’s COVID-19 social distancing rules face the risk of punishment, Daily NK has learned. 

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday that an Onsong County family that had invited a lot of guests to a wedding ceremony now faces punishment, along with the people who attended the ceremony.

According to the source, the wedding was for a couple in their late 20s and the ceremony was held on Dec. 30. The family invited close relatives, members of their inminban (North Korea’s lowest administrative unit), and coworkers to the ceremony.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Koreans typically invited their entire families and neighbors to weddings, 60th birthday parties, and other celebrations. Based on the source’s account, the Onsong County family secretly invited the bare minimum number of people to avoid disappointing their neighbors. Their actions, however, drew the attention of the authorities because they violated the country’s social distancing rules. 

A wedding party at a restaurant on Changjon Street in Pyongyang. / Image: Yonhap News Agency

“Word of the wedding immediately got back to the Onsong County party committee and Ministry of Social Security, and now they’re threatening to make an example of the family,” the source said, adding, “The wedding ceremony participants are worried [about what will happen to them].” 

The county party committee, for its part, has ordered workplaces where the wedding participants are employed to force the individuals to “reflect on their misdeeds” by writing self-criticisms and holding self-criticism sessions.

The county party committee has also declared that the Ministry of Social Security will punish those who violated COVID-19 social distancing rules. Local party officials are reportedly browbeating residents by telling them to contribute supplies needed for state construction projects if they want to avoid punishment, and threatening to “unconditionally inflict punishments” on those who fail to do so.

“The supplies [the county party committee demanded people supply] cost a lot, but people are so scared they have begun providing them. Most have given a lot – up to 10 kilograms of pork or dozens of kilograms of grain,” said the source. “People who couldn’t provide anything because they are in difficult circumstances are trembling in fear that they will be punished.”

The source said the family that held the wedding will face punishment regardless of whether they come up with the supplies.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.