Kim Jong Un has reportedly banned any “gatherings that involve alcohol and singing” during Christmas in a bid to further control dissent as the UN puts sanctions on North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.
According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), North Korea “has devised a system whereby party organs report people’s economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information.”
In 2016, Kim banned the handful of Christians in North Korea from celebrating the holiday. Instead of Christmas, he said they should celebrate his grandmother, Kim Jong-suk. Dubbed “the Sacred Mother of the Revolution,” she was born on Christmas Eve in 1919, according to USA Today.
In the past, the North Korean leader has tried to keep Christmas at bay, telling South Korea a few years ago that lighting a 30-foot tall tree on a hill near the demilitarized zone could lead to “unexpected consequences,” according to AOL.
But the ban on the holiday has not stopped Christmas trees from being put up throughout Pyongyang, especially in fancy restaurants or stores for the local elite and resident foreigners. Even though the trees are usually decorated with light and ornaments, religious symbols are nowhere in sight, the Associated Press reported.
In November, Kim also attempted to suppress Mother’s Day, a celebration he introduced to North Korea in 2012.
“On the significant Mother’s Day every year, all the sons and daughters of the country extend warm congratulations to the mothers bringing up their children with their love, feelings and devotion and upholding the socialist country,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported.