North Korea offers amnesty to criminals, marking important holidays

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Friday, January 21, 2022

As reported by the state-operated media outlet Voice of Korea on January 20, the North Korean government has issued a decree granting amnesty to those found guilty of "crimes against the country and the people". The decree was instituted to mark former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il's upcoming birth anniversaries.

Statues of Kim Il Sung (left) and Kim Jong Il (right) in central Pyongyang.
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.

According to Voice of Korea, the decree was issued by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly as decree No. 820. The decree will be effective as of January 30. The Supreme People's Assembly is "the highest organ of State power" in the country, as stated in the North Korean constitution.

The birth anniversary of founding leader Kim Il Sung, titled the "Day of the Sun", is held yearly on April 15, and the birth anniversary of second leader Kim Jong Il is held on February 16 under the name of "Day of the Shining Star". Both dates serve as important holidays in the North, with grandiose celebrations having taken place in previous years.

According to an article published by The Korea Herald, this pardoning is a way "to promote social unity amid economic hardships" and "to boost loyalty for the leader [Kim Jong Un]", linking COVID-19 border closures to the North's dire economic situation.