North Korea Executes 80 by Firing Squad, Many for Trivial Offenses

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 09:50 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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In one of the communist country's most brutal mass executions to date, North Korea publicly killed 80 people this month for offenses as trivial as watching illicit TV shows and carrying a Bible, according to the Korea JoongAng Daily.

An anonymous source told the Daily that the executions were carried out in seven cities on Nov. 3, and a handful of North Korean defector-run websites have corroborated the story.

The condemned were reportedly put to death for offenses such as disseminating pornography, prostitution, possessing Bibles, and watching South Korean soap operas. None of them committed capital offenses under North Korean law, which would have included such crimes as sedition, treason, and terrorism, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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In the eastern port of Wonsan, officials gathered 10,000 people in a sports stadium to watch a firing squad pelt the victims with bullets, Agence France-Presse reported.

"I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were so riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards," one source was quoted in the JoongAng Daily as saying.

The public executions are believed to be the North Korea's way of deterring others from violating the country's strict social codes.

"The regime is obviously afraid of potential changes in people's mindsets and is pre-emptively trying to scare people off," one official reportedly told North Korea Intellectual Solidarity, a defector-run website, according to AFP.

Kim Jong Un, the 30-year-old dictator who came to power two years ago after his, Kim Jong Il, died, is knows for his grisly punishments. In August, he reportedly had his ex-lover executed by a firing squad after accusing her and other members of a prominent performing arts group of making pornographic videos.

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