North Korea punishes insincere mourners

North Korea is punishing citizens who did not mourn sincerely during the public mourning organized for Kim Jong Il, reported MSNBC.

The reports originate from South Korea-based newspaper, Daily NK, which is run by opponents of the regime in North Korea. The newspaper learned from a source in the North Hamkyung province that North Korean authorities are sentencing those who didn’t participate in the organized public mournings as well as those who didn’t cry or seem genuine in their mourning with at least six months at labor camps.

The Daily NK also stated that people “accused of circulating rumors criticizing the country’s 3rd generation dynastic system” are being banished to remote areas or sent to re-education camps.

Estimates put the numbers of people held in North Korean prison camps at 200,000, according to Amnesty International.

The world watched in late December as North Koreans displayed what appeared to be abject bereavement at the loss of their dictator of 17 years. The New Yorker reported about how the “public plazas of Pyongyang began to fill with neatly assembled ranks of citizens, weeping and wailing on command, while state television recorded the spectacle, which was promptly uploaded to YouTube.”

ABC news quoted the late Hwang Jang Yop, a North Korean defector and official who described similar government behavior after Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994. He said, “The party conducted surveys to see who displayed the most grief, and made this an important criterion in assessing party members’ loyalty.”

On Thursday, North Korea announced that Kim Jong Il’s body would be enshrined in the same palace as his father, Kim Il Sung, and statues, portraits and towers would be erected in honor of the “eternal leader.” The Kumsusan Memorial Palace is estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, undergoing renovations in the 1990s while tens of thousands of North Koreans died of starvation, reported The New York Times.

More on GlobalPost: North Korea embalms Kim Jong Il, hopes for successful transition

The North Korean government is ramping up propaganda and working to establish Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, as the heir apparent and North Korea’s new leader, by repeatedly connecting him with his father and grandfather, according to The Times.

More on GlobalPost: North Korea to release prisoners for dead leaders' birthdays

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