NORTH KOREA: FISHING FLEET CAPTAIN EXECUTED FOR LISTENING TO RFA
|North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
December 20, 2020:
Authorities in North Korea executed the owner of a fishing fleet in front of 100 boat captains and fisheries executives for secretly listening to broadcasts by Radio Free Asia and other forbidden media outlets while at sea, sources in the country told RFA on 16 December 2020. (Source: Radio Free Asia, 17/12/2020)
The fishing boat captain, who picked up the habit of tuning in to broadcasts from abroad while in the military, confessed to having listened to the U.S. government-funded media outlet for more than 15 years, after he was turned in by a resentful crewman at his base in the northeastern port city of Chongjin.
“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a law enforcement official from North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service on 16 December.
“We know that the captain’s surname was Choi and he was in his 40s. He was working out of a fishery base affiliated with the Central Party’s Bureau 39,” the source said, referring to the secret organization tasked with acquiring hard currency and maintaining a slush fund for Kim Jong Un.
“Choi was the owner of a fleet of over 50 ships. During an investigation by the provincial security department, Captain Choi confessed to listening to RFA broadcasts since the age of 24, when he was serving in the military as a radio operator,” the source said.
The North Hamgyong official said that Choi and his subordinates in the military routinely set the dial to RFA when he was in his 30s.
“After he finished military service, he continued to listen to RFA. They say that listening to RFA brought back fond memories of his days in the military. It also seems he was under the illusion that because he was part of Bureau 39’s fishing base, he would be immune to criminal charges, and that seems to have brought on tough consequences for him,” the source said.
“We know that the provincial security department defined his crime as an attempt of subversion against the party. They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants. They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea,” said the source.
Another source, a resident of the province, confirmed to RFA that news of Choi’s execution had spread among the public.
“During the investigation, they found out that when he was out fishing on distant seas, he fixed the frequency and listened continuously to foreign broadcasts,” the second source said.
The source said that with Choi’s growing power and wealth as a fleet owner, he became high-handed toward his crew.
“One of the fishermen sought vengeance for Choi’s arrogant and disrespectful behavior so he reported him to the security department,” the second source said.
The second source said that Choi confessed during his investigation to continuously listening to news of the outside world and music programming from RFA.
“The security authorities decided then that the time to reeducate him had long past, so they executed him by firing squad,” the second source said.
“It is really common for people who work on ships to enjoy broadcasts in the Korean language, such as RFA, through their radio communicators when they go out to the sea. Therefore, it seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death,” the second source said.