Korean Language Blog

Sung-tan-jul (성탄절) Posted by on Dec 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

What is sung-tan-jul (성탄절)?  Sung-tan-jul (성탄절) is Christmas in Korean.  As you know, some South Koreans celebrate Christmas.  However, the story’s different for North Korea.  Christianity is seen as a doctrine imported by the West.  As a result, the North Korean government views Christmas and anything associated with the West with suspicion.

Although there are a few churches in North Korea, (four to be exact) the activities of the church are monitored very closely.  The churches basically operate on the whim of the North Korean government.  If the government is displeased with the church in any way, it can arrest and imprison any of its members.  Imprisonment can lead to death for any of the church members.  The work camps in North Korea are infamous for its torture tactics.  Out of fear, North Koreans celebrate Christmas in secret.

To be honest, not many North Koreans know about Christmas.  The press is tightly controlled and scrutinized by the North Korean government.  Therefore, anything postive about the West, including Christmas, is censored by the North Korean press.  If the North Korean people saw how happy and charitable people were on Christmas, and how beautiful the streets are decorated, capitalism would seem like a positive thing.  That would threaten the North Korean agenda.

So this Christmas in North Korea, there will no christmas trees, no lights that line the streets of Pyongyang (평양) the capital of North Korea.  The only thing that will light up the streets of Pyongyang (평양) is the Juche Tower (주체상탑).  The Juche Tower (주체상탑) was made to commemorate the life of Kim Il Jong (김일정), the former dictator of North Korea.  What the tower really symbolizes is oppression and the wholesale denial of humanity.  So for all those North Koreans this year and for everyone reading this, Merry Christmas (메리 크리스마스).

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