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North Korea Marks 10th Anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s Death

Citizens visit the bronze statues of their late leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, North Korea Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, on the occasion of 10th anniversary of demise of Kim Jong Il.

Thousands of North Koreans marked the 10th anniversary Friday of the death of the country’s former leader, Kim Jong Il.

Current leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s son, attended a ceremony with hundreds of others at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum for Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung, the founder of the country.

During the ceremony, Kim Jong Un was seen bowing to a large portrait of his father but was not shown speaking.

To mark the anniversary, the North Korean regime has banned laughing for 10 days. The laughing ban is in addition to bans on drinking alcohol, shopping and leisure activities normally in place on the anniversary.

Kim Jong Il ruled the Stalinist state for 17 years, and the Kim family, which North Koreans are taught to revere, has ruled for 48 years. During the Kim reign, the country developed nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles but often failed to feed itself.

During Kim Jong Il’s reign, the country suffered widespread famine.

Despite the economic problems, which reportedly have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, the regime has managed to maintain control.

Horns and sirens sounded for three minutes at noon as flags were lowered to half-staff. Large crowds bearing flowers climbed Pyongyang’s Mansu Hill, where there are giant statues of the elder Kims.

State-run newspapers published articles praising Kim Jong Il and called for “standing united behind respected comrade Kim Jong Un,” the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper wrote in an editorial.

“We should make our every effort to bolster our single-minded unity,” the editorial added.

Experts say the coming decade will be challenging for Kim Jong Un.

“North Korea marked the 10-year memorial of Kim Jong Il with public ceremonies and state propaganda. More significant will be Kim Jong Un’s attempt, after a decade in power, to map out a credible path for post-pandemic diplomacy and economic recovery,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul in an interview with Reuters.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters and Agence Presse France.