Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches a parade to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War, at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang July 27, 2013. Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee

A North Korean comedienne has been sentenced to hard labour in a coal mine after accidentally mocking the country's rulers.

The woman, identified as Lee Choon Hong, was removed in the middle of her act during a performance for workers ordered by leader Kim Jong-un, in the country's south-eastern Kangwon province.

According to reports, Hong has been punished for a "slip of the tongue".

The sentencing left Hong no time to meet her family, and she has been forced to postpone her daughter's wedding.

Sources say the kind of punishment given to Hong typically lasts for six months, however her sentence could be reduced for good behaviour.

The exact nature of Hong's comments is unclear. However, reports suggest she has been punished for commenting on sensitive issues. Hong is known in her country for an ability to mimic voices.

She also performed for the late dictator Kim Jong-il.

"Lee Choon Hong had a slip of the tongue while giving a performance for the workers at the Sepo reclamation project site," an unidentified source who spoke to Radio Free Asia's Korean Service said.

"She was sent to the city of Sunchon in South Pyongan province to carry out reform work at the Jikdong Youth Coal Mine," he added.

The source also said Hong was one of several entertainers ordered to perform by the authorities.

"This is already the second time Lee has been forced to undergo reform work - she had suffered this embarrassment once in the mid-2000s for misspeaking," a former high-ranking North Korean official from Pyongyang, who is also a friend of Hong's, said.

The official added that news of Hong's punishment has upset her fans.

"When people heard Lee's news, they sympathised with her saying that as comic storytelling is there to make people laugh, it must be very difficult to avoid going against the policies of the ruling party," he explained.