Human Rights Group Claims North Korea Executes People Who Watch K-Pop

The group says that, over the past decade, the Kim Jong-un regime has sentenced at least seven K-Pop watchers to death by firing squad.

  • In its new report, the Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) claimed that, over the past decade, the North Koreans publicly executed at least seven people who were caught watching or distributing South Korean K-Pop videos.
  • The group also says that the North Korean leader has responded to international scrutiny over the country’s human rights abuse record by clamping down on information leakage and by selecting execution sites that are easier for his government to control.
  • Through satellite imagery and interviews with North Korean defectors, TJWG tallied at least twenty-three public executions over the past decade.
  • While seven were carried out for “engaging with South Korean pop culture entertainment,” the sixteen remaining executions were for drug crimes, prostitution, human trafficking, murder or attempted murder, or “obscene acts.”
  • “The families of those being executed were often forced to watch,” the group added.
  • Most executions took place in Hyesan, a northern city that borders China, where city officials formed firing squads.
  • According to the New York Times, Kim Jong-un has called K-Pop a “vicious cancer” and asserts that it corrupts young North Koreans.
  • The Times further reported that, last December, the North Koreans enacted a law that was designed to stop the flow of K-Pop from China. Under the law, people who possess or watch the material face up to fifteen years in a labor camp, while those who distribute it face death.