North Korean mother rescues kids; faces jail for bizarre reason
In an utterly bizarre incident, a North Korean woman may face prison for saving her two kids from a fire but allowing the portraits of former leaders of the dictator-run nation to burn. The woman ran into her burning home to save her two kids, however, left behind the portraits of Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-sung—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather.
The incident occurred in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, on December 30 when a fire engulfed a home where two families lived, South Korea-based news portal DailyNK reported. While the children were home, parents from both families were out when the fire started. Upon hearing about the fire, the parents rushed back and saved their children. One family, however, couldn't save the Kim posters.
The mother who couldn't save the Kim posters is now under investigation by the Ministry of State Security (MSS). Due to the investigation, she also cannot tend to her children—hurt in the fire and in desperate need of antibiotics. A source told DailyNK, "The mother will be able to focus on caring for her children once the authorities end their investigation."
According to DailyNK, while the neighbors want to help by covering the cost of medicine, they worry the mother will be charged with a political offense. For now, the neighbors are collecting at least five kilograms of corn for the family, the report added.
North Korea mandates for every home to display pictures of its past leaders and inspections are conducted to check if the posters are hung, displayed in the most prominent room, are placed high enough to stand above everyone else, etc. Failing to do so constitutes a crime. Even a layer of dust can warrant a fine proportional to the thickness of the dusty layer.
On the other hand, those who manage to save these posters from incidents such as fires are hailed as heroes. While one of the families in the recent incident couldn't save their Kim posters, a young farmer saved the posters belonging to the second family, DailyNK reported. The farmer, who was recently released from prison, became a hero overnight.
In 2012, 14-year-old Han Hyon-Gyong drowned trying to save her family's Kim posters during flash floods. She was posthumously awarded the Kim Jong-Il Youth Honor and her school was renamed after her. American student Otto Warmbier was convicted for pulling down a poster with Kim Il-Sung's name in Pyongyang. He fell into a coma in custody and died shortly after his release in 2017.