On the 10th anniversary of former supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-il's death last week and the beginning of the country's 11-day bereavement mandate, a noticeably slimmer Kim Jong-un made an appearance to commemorate his father's death.
Death anniversary: Donning his trademark black leather coat, North Korean's supreme leader Kim Jong-un, 37, stood in front of thousands of North Koreans who attended the memorial service at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum of the late leader, on Friday, according to Reuters. North Korea's flag was also flown at half-mast as part of the commemoration.
State television footage of the memorial showed Kim looking slimmer than he has in recent years. International media first noticed the change in his physical appearance after he celebrated the 73rd anniversary of North Korea in September, Sky News reported.
Rumors and speculation involving his health began circulating after his images were posted online. In late October, South Korea's National Intelligence Service confirmed that Kim lost 44 pounds and that the North Korean government has not been using a body double, ABC News reported.
For the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, North Koreans were required to enter an 11-day mourning period and adhere to several bans the government imposed, such as laughing, drinking alcohol and participating in leisure activities, a resident of Sinuiju told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
“In the past many people who were caught drinking or being intoxicated during the mourning period were arrested and treated as ideological criminals. They were taken away and never seen again,” the source said, adding that celebrating birthdays and mourning lost loved ones are also not allowed during this period.
Local police were also informed to stay vigilant for anyone “who fail[s] to appear appropriately bereaved,” another source said.
In addition to the mourning period, elderly military veterans will hold events to raise awareness about Kim Jong-il’s accomplishments. Some of the events include a photography and art exhibition in South Hamgyong and a remembrance concert.
Other details: Kim Jong-il succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, after his death on July 8, 1994. He ruled North Korea until his death on Dec. 17, 2011. The country experienced several challenges under his leadership, including several food shortages, which led to the "arduous march" (also known as the “meal-skipping campaign”).
On the day of Kim Jong-il’s death, Kim Jong-un, the late ruler’s son who had remained unheard of before the transfer of power, took over the supreme leader position at the age of 27. During his first year in office, Kim Jong-un reportedly purged high-ranking officials from the government who could challenge his authority.
North Korea has allegedly carried out 27 death sentences ever since Kim Jong-un became leader in 2011, human rights group Transitional Justice Working Group claimed, Daily Star reported.
"In 2012 or 2013 in Pyongyang an executed body was burned with a flame-thrower in front of a crowd following execution. The family of the accused was forced to attend the execution and sit in the front row to observe. The father fainted after watching his son burn in front of his eyes," a defector told the human rights group.
Last month, a man was reportedly executed via a firing squad for allegedly smuggling copies of Netflix’s hit South Korean series “Squid Game” into North Korea through USBs.
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