Oct. 1 (UPI) -- North Korea could be quietly observing an annual autumn holiday celebrated across the Korean Peninsula as the country urges stronger quarantine measures against the coronavirus.
In the South, cemeteries and national parks are significantly less crowded during the Chuseok holidays, which began Wednesday and end Friday, Yonhap reported. The South Korean holiday is marked by visits to ancestral graves.
North Korea's Rodong Sinmun said Thursday Chuseok or Chusok is a "unique folk holiday" of the Korean people, but did not include multiple articles. In 2019, the Rodong published three articles on the holiday. The stories covered foods eaten in the country and "folk games," suggesting celebrations were being held despite the lingering effects of Typhoon Lingling, according to Yonhap.
Pyongyang's Korea Central Television also did not air an annual wrestling match. Spectator sports is an important North Korean holiday ritual, but was not included in TV program listings. KCTV did broadcast an Italian league soccer match however, Yonhap reported.
Events at the regime's monuments to the Communist revolution and the tombs of North Korean patriots were also not reported until late Thursday.
North Korean defectors in the South have also canceled large-scale annual events held near the border, South Korean television network YTN reported. Only individual families remembering their relatives left behind held ancestor memorial services in Imjingak Park in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, the report says.
South Koreans have been encouraged to stay at home and avoid visiting aging relatives.
The public awareness campaign might be working amid general fears about COVID-19.
At Suwon Yeonhwajang funeral hall in the South, visitors are only allowed in if they have a reservation and crowd size was limited to 1,800 people per day, according to YTN.
Ham Tae-geun, a resident of Suwon, told YTN the roads were less congested and a typical 40-minute trip to the funeral hall took only 10 to 15 minutes on Thursday.
Lee Chang-won, the owner of the funeral hall, said visits are expected to reach one-10th of last year, according to the report.