In Korean tradition, a soul is believed to stay in this world for 49 days before departing to another world, a period traditionally reserved for mourning. So when Kim Jong-un is caught smiling and being friendly in recent pictures taken within the 49 day period following his father’s death, many North Koreans were taken aback at his ignorance of tradition.
But according to the South Korean JoongAng Daily, a widely circulated newspaper in the South, instead of mourning his father’s death, Kim is making visits across the country to “boost the morale” of his people with the slogan “build a strong and prosperous nation.” Choi Jin Wook, Director of North Korean studies at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said that the long mourning period following Kim Il Sung’s death triggered a further economic downturn. Based on this, Choi believes Kim Jong-un’s recent actions reflect the young leader’s insistence on focusing on his people as opposed to dwelling on the death of his father.

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Korea JoongAng Daily