Feigned sadness surrounds Kim Jong Il's tomb

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-02-20 17:15
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February 16 marked Kim Jong Il's 75th birthday, a national holiday in North Korea. Like his father Kim Il Sung, his body is kept in a preserved state at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. However, despite idolization efforts focused on Kim Jong Ils legacy for the holiday, at least some North Korean citizens are critical of the preservation of his body.

"I was appointed as an exemplary worker [by the Korean Workers Alliance] and invited to visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on February 15.

"I was able to cry at the Tower of Eternal Life where the Suryong (Kim Il Sung) is buried, but I had real difficulty forcing out tears at the same place for Kim Jong Il. I was so nervous about it [and being branded as anti-regime] that I was sweating profusely.

"I watched those around me, and it was obvious that they were pretending to cry while observing the behavior of others. The time of worship, which lasted for about a minute, felt like eternity, and all I could do was desperately hope for it to end quickly, the source added.

Many North Koreans began to lose respect for Kim Jong Il following the countrys period of mass starvation, referred to by the regime as the Arduous March, during his reign in the middle and late 1990s.

There is also rising criticism of the significant amount of money needed to prevent the corpses from decomposing. Many who have personally visited the palace note among themselves that the impoverished population continues to struggle in part due to a system that pours money into superficial practices like maintaining such an expensive monument to the dead. 

An additional source in South Pyongan Province who visited the mausoleum last week added, "To spend hard-earned money on the dead is similar to the ancient practice of slavery, taking money from those who dont have anything for themselves.

Some experts estimate that approximately 1 million USD (approx 1.1 billion KPW) was spent on processing Kim Il Sung's body for permanent preservation, with a further 800,000 USD needed each year for maintenance. In addition, the regime has spent exorbitant amounts of foreign currency to preserve the body of Kim Jong Il. 

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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