“The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor-training camp to anybody who didn’t participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period, or who did participate but didn’t cry and didn’t seem genuine.” -unnamed source from North Korea, quoted by Daily NK
I knew there was something suspicious behind all of those images and video of North Koreans mourning the death of Kim Jong Il, and now come reports that harsh punishments awaited those who didn’t mourn authentically enough. Reports state that those who did not fully and genuinely participate in the widespread organized mourning have been sent to re-education camps and labor camps.
Bear in mind, the only source for this information is a North Korea-focused newspaper in South Korea (hardly unbiased), but MSNBC and Business Insider have published similar stories. CNN reports that North Korea has denied any such punishments relating to the mourning. The CNN report says that North Korean officials “attributed the allegations [of punishments] to ‘reptile media under the control’ of a group of ‘traitors’ that it said were connected to President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea.”
As with any report from North Korea, truth is hard to mete out, and reality is likely much different from what we see.
Related news: We previously mentioned that the Associated Press planned to open a full-time bureau in North Korea. In spite of what must be a very uncertain time in the country, this week the AP finally opened its North Korea bureau. From the AP’s own coverage, “AP writers and photojournalists will also be allowed to work in North Korea on a regular basis. [...] The AP bureau will be staffed by reporter Pak Won Il and photographer Kim Kwang Hyon, both natives of North Korea who have done some reporting for AP in recent weeks on Kim’s funeral and the mass public mourning on the streets of Pyongyang. The bureau will be supervised by Korea Bureau Chief Jean H. Lee and Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder, who will make frequent trips to Pyongyang to manage the office, train the local journalists and conduct their own reporting. Lee and Guttenfelder, both Americans, are longtime AP journalists with broad international experience.” It will be very interesting to watch the AP’s North Korea coverage over the coming months.