Rights report: Executions in North Korea for sharing South Korean culture on the rise

FPI / July 5, 2024


North Korean defectors have testified that the Kim Jong-Un regime has been conducting public executions, mostly by firing squad, of North Koreans caught distributing South Korean TV shows, movies, or K-pop music, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a report.

A North Korean soldier is seen aiming a rifle to publicly execute individuals in a video provided by South Korea’s Unification Ministry to promote the 2024 North Korean Human Rights Report released on June 25. / Screengrab from video

The 2024 North Korean Human Rights Report, released by the ministry in Seoul on June 25, includes testimony suggesting an “increase in public executions based on violations of the (2020) Law on Rejecting Reactionary Ideology and Culture.”

The ministry’s report is based on the testimonies of 649 defectors who had fled North Korea by 2023.

One anonymous defector described witnessing the public execution of a 22-year-old farm worker at a mine in South Hwanghae Province in 2022.

“A person, believed to be a judge from the court, recited, ‘they were arrested for listening to 70 songs and three movies from the puppet scoundrels (South Korea).’ It was revealed during the interrogation process that he had distributed them to seven others,” the report said, citing a defector’s testimony.

“People who first brought in the material receive the harshest punishment, which is invariably execution by firing squad,” the defector said.

The report represents the first time the South Korean government has publicly confirmed that the Kim Jong-Un regime carried out public executions under the 2020 law.

The defector added: “There have been many public executions recently under the law.”

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