Unsmiling, Trembling

Marcus Parekh, writing in The Daily Telegraph from Friday 17 December 2021, reports a national 11-day ban on all joy and smiling in North Korea. Anyone not looking sufficiently upset during the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-il, the ‘dear leader's’ death, is liable to arrest and detention.

"During the mourning period, we must not drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities," a person from the north-eastern border city of Sinuiju told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

"Even if your family member dies during the mourning period, you are not allowed to cry out loud over the body...The restrictions include a ban on must be taken out after it's over. People cannot even celebrate their own birth days if they fall within the mourning period.”

This, while we in the rest of the world are marking Christmas, the traditional period of feasting and merriment. Anyone in North Korea who may be in danger of feeling too happy during the enforced period of state mourning should manage to avoid arrest by reflecting on the dear leader’s record in office. He presided over the mid-1990s’ famine, euphemistically known as the ‘Arduous March’. An estimated 3.5 million North Koreans perished during those four long years. Dear Kim was called to judgement by means of a heart attack in 2011 aged 69, and was succeeded by Kim Jong-un, the current supreme leader.

We in Britain have been spared the requirement to worship our leaders for about 1600 years now, although the intervening period saw a few close calls. Thankfully, we may keep smiling. Yet neither do I celebrate that awful man’s death, though our laws and freedoms allow it. No, for those who would kill millions through their misrule and who persecute God’s precious people, I tremble and quiver. The Neros, Hitlers, Stalins and Kims might have been big men in their days, barking orders and revelling in flunkies’ flattery, but in eternity, stripped of finery and pride, they await that which they denied their own peoples- real justice.

Image by Peter Anta from Pixabay