In the past decade, at least seven people have been executed in North Korea for either being caught watching or distributing K-pop videos, according to a human rights group that revealed the horrifying news on Wednesday as a portion of their latest report into state-sanctioned killings performed under the communist dictator Kim Jong-un.
The Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group’s report, titled “Mapping Killings Under Kim Jong-un” claims that the young leader, responding to international scrutiny about his nation’s human rights abuse record, clamped down on information leakage and started employing execution sites that he’s able to more closely control.
Using satellite imagery and interviews from 683 escapees from the country, the human rights group says that it was able to account for a minimum of 23 public executions conducted over the last 10 years, 7 of which were carried out for having contact with South Korea’s entertainment and culture, including movies, sons, and TV dramas. Other public executions were carried out for ‘obscene acts’ against the government.
First to report the group’s work was the New York Times, who pointed out that the megalomaniac dictator had described K-pop as a “vicious cancer” that corrupts North Korean’s behaviors, attire, and hairstyles. He warned that if the wicked tide of K-pop was not stemmed, that North Korea would soon “crumble like a damp wall.”
The Times reports that a new edict was issued last December across the country that aims at preventing K-pop entering the country through China. It requires a minimum sentence of 15 years in hard labor camps for those who either watch or possess material from South Korea, and the possibility of death for those who distribute it.
According to the human rights group, the country prefers to use public executions for these sentences to warn onlookers about the seriousness of the crime. They add that most of the executions are performed in Hyesan, a city that borders China and is a major trade hub where K-pop smuggling is suspected. Officials would mobilize the public who were forced to watch music distributors be killed by firing squad. Particularly inhumane, is how the victim is treated prior to their execution, and the fact that the family is forced to watch the execution of their loved one, as well as denounce them.
Author: Bridget Roberson