North Korean Mother Might Be Jailed for Saving Kids Instead of Kim Portraits in Fire: Report

When the fire broke out, the mother was reportedly unable to save the portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il

Official portraits of Kim il Sung and Kim Jong il in a home, South Pyongan Province, Chongsan-ri Cooperative Farm, North Korea on May 16, 2009 in Chongsan-ri Cooperative Farm, North Korea
Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty

A mother may reportedly face legal action in North Korea after she failed to save the portraits of her country’s leaders in a house fire, despite getting her children out safely.

The unidentified woman is currently under investigation by the Ministry of State Security (MSS) for the Dec. 30 incident, according to Daily NK, a news outlet based in South Korea that reports on North Korea, which controls press coverage inside the dictator-run nation.

A source told the outlet that only the children were home when a fire broke out in the residence shared between two families. The mothers, who were out together with their husbands at the time of the incident, immediately rushed home when they learned of what happened.

As the flames engulfed the residence, the women reportedly attempted to save their children, according to Daily NK.

Though one of the mothers was able to successfully rescue her children, she apparently did not have time to also save the portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. She is now under investigation by the MSS and facing possible jail time, according to Daily NK.

The other mother was able to save her children and Kim family portraits after a young farmworker somehow managed to get the portraits out of the house, the Daily NK reported. Because of this, the second family is reportedly not under investigation.

According to the outlet, North Koreans who save the Kim family’s portraits from fires are revered as heroes in their country. Meanwhile, those who fail to do so may face legal consequences.

In this particular case, a source told Daily NK that the young farmworker who rescued the portraits had recently been released from prison for a violent offense. Despite this, he is now reportedly being hailed as a hero for his actions.

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The investigation by the MSS isn’t the only problem that the one mother is currently facing. According to Daily NK, she has also been having trouble properly caring for her children, who were both hospitalized for their burns and require antibiotics.

Sources told the outlet that in the wake of the incident, the mother has been unable to obtain the prescribed medication to treat her children’s wounds due to the ongoing investigation.

Neighbors of the family have reportedly wanted to help by covering the cost of the medication. However, given North Korea’s laws, they are reportedly hesitant to do so in fear that she will be charged with a political offense.

As of Tuesday, the mother still remained separated from her children, according to Daily NK.

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