All around the world, people are getting ready to celebrate Christmas – but not in North Korea.
The country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, has prohibited gatherings that involve drinking, alcohol and singing, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.
The NIS said the move is Kim’s attempt to smother dissent as U.N. sanctions over his country’s nuclear program take effect.
“[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,” the NIS stated, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
The decision comes after Kim banned Christmas in 2016. He told the country’s few practicing Christians to celebrate his grandmother, Kim Jong Suk, instead, who was born on Christmas Eve in 1919. Kim Jong Suk was the first wife of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, and she is a staunch communist known to North Koreans as “the Sacred Mother of the Revolution.”
Some shops and restaurants in Pyongyang still display Christmas trees decorated with lights and baubles, according to USA Today, but the trees contain no religious symbols.
It was only last month that Kim forbade North Koreans from expressing affection for their mothers on the country’s Mother’s Day because Kim feared such expressions of love and thanks would detract from the veneration North Koreans are expected to show Kim’s father and grandfather, the country’s first two dictators.
Kim introduced Mothers’ Day in 2012 to celebrate mothers who help uphold his regime, as well as to celebrate “The Duty of Mothers in Education,” a speech his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, gave on Nov. 16, 1961.