02 March 2022 :
The daughter of a high-ranking cadre along with her boyfriend have been publicly executed for watching and distributing South Korean films, soap operas, and entertainment programs. North Korea is apparently intensifying its “fear politics” based on a law to eradicate “reactionary thought and culture.”
According to a Daily NK source in South Pyongan Province on 25 February 2022, a young woman in her 20s identified as “A,” along with her boyfriend “B,” were publicly shot in Munhwa-dong, Pyongsong, in mid-January.
The woman was the daughter of the head of the political department of the South Pyongan Province branch of the Ministry of State Security (MSS). A graduate of the Pyongyang Han Tok Su University of Light Industry, she had worked in foodstuff production.
Recently, however, she was essentially unemployed, having returned to her hometown of Pyongsong. On paper, she was employed at a production base under the provincial branch of the MSS, her father’s employer. However, she was making monthly payments to avoid showing up at the office, a practice known as “Aug. 3 work” in North Korea.
Her boyfriend — reportedly the son of a laborer — was a computer technician who graduated from the automation department of a natural sciences university.
The couple apparently enjoyed South Korean food programs such as “Baek Jong-won’s Alley Restaurant” and “Hard Life Rich People,” and even considered selling dishes based on what they saw in the programs. Later, they began watching other kinds of South Korean videos, and started to earn money by copying and distributing the videos.
According to the judgment handed down at their public trial, the couple imported a computer from China to copy the videos. They were also crafting a plan to engage in professional distribution activities by copying videos and printed materials from overseas, operating a photo studio with photo editing and printing equipment as a front.
In fact, according to explanatory materials for the law to eradicate “reactionary thought and culture” obtained by Daily NK in January of last year, Article 27 of the legislation calls for sentences of five to 15 years of correctional labor against people caught watching, listening or possessing “films, recordings, publications, books, songs, drawings or photos from South Choson [South Korea],” and life sentences of correctional labor or even death for individuals who import and distribute such materials.
North Korean authorities judged that the couple was able to avoid registering their imported computer with the MSS and engage in illegal copying of videos because they were protected by A’s father, a high-ranking cadre at the provincial branch of the MSS.
A’s father was originally an administrative cadre but was promoted to the MSS based on his reputation for eliminating “reactionary” individuals and dissidents.
Ultimately, A was publicly executed. Though the lives of her father and other family members were spared, they were sent to a political prison camp.
About 20 people accused of taking part in distributing the videos along with MSS officials were given front row seats to the execution. Immediately after the shooting, all these spectators were arrested for participating in or overlooking the illegal distribution of videos.
Prior to this, North Korean authorities ordered that a certain number of people from institutions such as the local inminban (people’s unit), MSS, and prosecutor’s office participate in public trials. Accordingly, about 300 people reportedly watched the execution.
The source said intense crackdowns to eradicate the import and distribution of foreign videos are continuing.