North Korea tries to make its executions more discreet

Sylvie Claire / December 16, 2021


North Korea continues to carry out public executions but now strives to make them invisible to the outside world, a Seoul-based organization reported, suggesting that Pyongyang is more concerned about its image abroad.
This organization, Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), analyzed satellite images and collected 442 testimonies of 23 people shot or hanged in public since Kim Jong Un took power in December 2011.
North Korean defectors said the executions took place at closely guarded sites, with authorities doing their utmost to prevent any information from leaking out, according to a TJWG report released Wednesday.
In recent years, North Korea appears to be strategically choosing sites away from the border areas to carry out these executions, the human rights organization said.
In addition, surveillance and monitoring of spectators at these events are tightened to prevent information about public executions from being disseminated outside the country, she added, citing greater international scrutiny of human rights violations in North Korea as the reason.
North Korea has long been accused of carrying out public executions in order to subdue the population through terror. Kim Jong Un even had several of his close advisors put to death, including his powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek in 2013.
North Korea denies these accusations, calling them lies spread by defectors, and claims to respect human rights. The country does not publish statistics on the death penalty.
Of the 23 executions reported by TJWG, 21 were carried out by shooting and the other two by hanging. They were often carried out in front of hundreds of spectators, and the families of the condemned were forced to attend.
Seven of those put to death were convicted of distributing or watching videos from South Korea, which are strictly prohibited by the regime.
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