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MOURNING IN N. KOREA BECOMES LOYALITY TEST?


PYONGYANG, N. Korea - NORTH Koreans have been told to pay respects to late leader Kim Jong-il three times a day and mourning rituals have become a test of their loyalty to the communist dynasty, an expert said today.
In contrast, when Kim's father and founding president Kim Il-Sung passed away in 1994, just one trip each day to a mourning place sufficed to prove their respects, said Professor Kim Young-Soo of Seoul's Sogang University.
  • "It is deeply in North Koreans' consciousness that they have to express their sorrow in the bitterest degree when the top leader dies, to avoid raising suspicions about their loyalty,'' Prof Young-Soo said.
  • "They have learned by experience that the stronger they express their grief, the better,'' said the professor, who has interviewed scores of North Korean defectors.
  • When TV cameras were trained on them, he said, there was increasing competition about who could stage the most dramatic display of weeping and wailing.
  • "Mourning is somewhat compelled and mobilised,'' Prof Young-Soo said, adding that residents were rounded up to participate according to their jobs and places of residence.
  • The fact that North Koreans are being told to pay respects three times a day is a sign that loyalty to Jong-il was weaker than to his father, the professor said.
Following the announcement on Monday of Kim Jong-il's death, North Korean TV showed thousands of people pounding the ground and weeping.
State media has urged citizens to rally round his son Jong-un as new leader - in the country's second dynastic succession.
Source: Agency
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