Kim Jong Un grants three-day New Year's holiday

Seol Song Ah  |  2017-01-04 09:55
Kim Jong Un issued special orders granting the North Korean population a three-day holiday in contrast to the two-day holidays typical of previous years.

A DailyNK source in South Pyongan reported on January 1 that the Party handed down instructions to extend the New Year's holiday to three days. Accordingly, opening hours for factory enterprises and Revolutionary Study Rooms, as well as the special heightened surveillance period of the State Security Department and the Ministry of People's Security were amended.

"Due to the orders, annual manure [and night soil] collection to support farming regions required annually on January 3 has been postponed. The three-day holiday is being promoted as a special gift from Kim Jong Un in celebration of the achievements of the 200-Day Battle," the source added.

According to the source, North Korean residents have been working constantly due to a series of political events. They were mobilized for the 200-Day Battle until its official conclusion on December 15 in order to achieve the goals proposed at the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party last year. On the heels of the 200-Day Battle, residents were continuously mobilized for political events including the fifth anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death (December 17) and ongoing year-end self criticism sessions.

"The authorities seem to have allowed an extra day off over New Years as a form of late holiday for the 200-Day Battle. It is a political strategy to promote Kim Jong Un's image as a 'caring leader," she said.

In 2014, the North Korean authorities abruptly notified South Korea that the New Year's holiday for workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex would be extended from one day to three days, stating that it was decided at the Supreme People's Assembly's Standing Committee. Holidays in North Korea are often randomly appointed at the Supreme Leader's behest, regardless of the scheduled calendar.

However, the authorities provided no special rations for the holiday this year.

"Although an extra day off was given, special holiday provisions including alcohol (1 bottle) and soybean paste (500g) normally given to state workers and households were not provided this year. Only workers at trading companies and foreign currency-earning enterprises were provided with holiday rice, meat, and oil etc., but that came from their own enterprises," a source in North Pyongan Province said.

Consequently, the people of North Korea are reported to be celebrating holidays 'on their own' regardless of the authorities' inadequacies.

"The way of celebrating holidays has changed beyond recognition. People used to enjoy holidays collectively, inviting neighbors to eat songpyeon (half-moon-shaped rice cake) and dumpling soup together and play yutnori (a traditional game), but these days, they only share the time with family and close friends," he added.

"As marketization has widened the gap between the rich and poor, the donju (newly affluent middle class) spend their time off at exclusive restaurants while ordinary people spend them working double time at the markets. Affluent people, including state officials and donju, often ignore their poorer neighbors even when they offer up greetings on New Year's Day."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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