North Korea staged gruesome public executions of 80 people this month, some for offenses as minor as watching South Korean entertainment videos or being found in possession of a Bible, a South Korean newspaper reported this week.
The daily JoongAng Ilbo attributed the mass executions to a single, unidentified source, but at least one other news agency, run by North Korean defectors, reported hearing rumors of the killings in seven cities across the reclusive country.
Authorities in Wonsan, a port on North Korea’s eastern coast that is being transformed into a resort in hopes of attracting foreign investment, gathered more than 10,000 residents in a stadium and forced them to watch the firing-squad executions, the newspaper reported.
If confirmed, the mass execution would be the most brutal step known to have been taken by the country’s 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong Un, who came to power two years ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
The South Korean newspaper, one of the country’s largest and most influential, noted that the executions occurred in cities where the communist leadership is attempting to create entities that can earn hard currency and may have been intended to intimidate workers who stray from the regime’s dictatorial social strictures.
Some of those put to death had been charged with disseminating pornography, JoongAng Ilbo report said.
In August, Kim was reported to have ordered the executions of a dozen entertainers from the Unhasu Orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band, including ex-girlfriend Hyon Song Wol. Chosun Ilbo, another leading South Korean daily, said the troupe members reportedly filmed themselves having sex and sold the videos on the black market.
Los Angeles Times