Public Execution is Still Carried Out

2019-08-06 16:28

"A society where the human rights of the dead as well as the human rights of those left behind are ignored"

An invitation has arrived to you. These words are written on the card you opened with anticipation. “Please come to the scene of public firing execution at 00(month) 00(date) 00(time)?”

Would you want to accept this invitation and attend the scene of execution?

According to a report by the Transitional Working Group, “Mapping for Killed People: Execution and Burial of the North Korean Regime,” North Korea continues to carry out public executions until quite recently. Predominant places of execution include rivers, fields, farmlands or hills. Pyongyang authorities seek to half-forcefully mobilize residents for these events by sending them declaration invitations before public executions. The residents mobilized for these executions include a significant number of children, women and the elderly.

According to cases collected by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), about two to three thousand people witnessed the scene when five men were publicly executed at a large stadium in Pyeongseong, South Pyongan Province in February 2015. Even more cruel is that when a father is executed, his wife and children must watch the man’s brain and heart burst in the front row. But they are not allowed to cry either. Co-workers of the executed also have to sit in the front row. There are many testimonies that even strong and healthy adults struggle to the point of vomiting in witnessing a shot. Even among the NAUH members, many say that the shootings seen in North Korea as a teenager often come to mind.

The most cited reasons for public execution include murder, attempted murder, followed by copper stealing, human trafficking, cattle stealing, and local and national embezzlement. There has been a case where a father, distressed by his starving child, stole a dead cow and fed it to his son. This father later got publicly executed for this charge of stealing a cow that was starved to death. Where the shadows of misery and death are cast, is where we call hell.

According to a recent North Korean source, there has been public executions for the charge of watching South Korean dramas and entertainment programs. The reason for the execution was to “discipline” the people. What hope should we seek in the face of those who smile outwardly with an agenda of peace, but doesn’t execute peace for their own citizens?

In May 2019, at the UN Human Rights Council, the North Korean Ambassador spoke on behalf of the authorities. “Our Republic does not carry out public executions. In very rare cases, however, we carry out public executions with careful consideration, only as long as the victims and residents strongly demand that they be executed publicly.”

Many North Korean defectors who listened to this live statement burst into laughter. We would like to ask. There are numerous public executions left in the memory of North Korean residents. Who asked for these and for whom? Who should punish the North Korean authorities, who are inflicting mass trauma to their citizens without convincing charges, and how?

[Cases of Public Executions Carried Out in North Korea Until Recently]

Testimonial Details Testimonial Number
In June 2013, six men were shot in Pyongyang. NKHR2017000033
In October 2013, two men were shot in public and killed at Hyesan Airfield in Yeonbong 2-dong, Hyesan-si, Yanggang Province. NKHR2015000014
In October 2013, two men were shot in public and killed in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. NKHR2015000034
In October 2013, a man was shot to death in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province. HKHR2016000091
In the winter of 2013, two men were shot to death in the mountains of Yeonbong-dong, Hyesan City, Yanggang Province. NKHR2017000112
In May 2014, two men were shot to death in public at Yeonbong-dong Hope Farm, Hyesan-si, Yanggang NKHR2015000039
In May 2014, two men were publicly shot to death in Hyesan, Yanggang Province. NKHR2015000040
In August 2014, three males in their early twenties were shot to death in public at the Daeheung-ri High School playground in Kim Hyung-jik, Yanggang Province. NKHR2016000123
In the fall of 2014, two men were shot dead in the open airfield of Hyesan, Yanggang Province. NKHR2015000027
In the summer of 2015, the city official was publicly executed in Hyesan, Yanggang Province. NKHR2016000158
In October 2016, three men and four women were shot to death in public at an Airfield in Yeonbong-dong, Hyesan-si, Yanggang Province. NKHR2017000073
In February 2017, about 20 people were shot and killed in Bekseong-gun, Hwanghaenam-do. NKHR2017000073
Source: NKDB [North Korean Human Rights Encyclopedia 2018]

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