Teenagers in North Korea are being executed for watching TV shows from the South, a new report has said.
Seoul’s unification ministry drew from testimonies by more than 500 North Korean defectors in a new report on human rights abuses by Pyongyang.
It includes a report of six teenagers aged 16 and 17 who faced the death penalty for watching illicit footage of South Korean TV shows and smoking opium, and of traders shot dead for secretly selling South Korean goods including high heels and cosmetics.
One testimony revealed that a pregnant woman was killed after a video of her dancing at home and pointing to a picture of Kim Il-sung, who ruled the North from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994, went viral, the Korea Herald reported.
‘Reveal abuses to international community’
“North Korean citizens’ right to life appears to be greatly threatened,” the unification ministry said in its report. “Executions are widely carried out for acts that do not justify the death penalty, including drug crimes, distribution of South Korean videos, and religious and superstitious activities.”
The information is difficult to verify independently because of the lack of access to the North, but chimes with similar reports from the United Nations, defectors’ groups, aid organisations and experts on North Korea.
Earlier this week, Yoon Suk Yeol, the South Korean president, said North Korean human rights abuses “should be fully revealed to the international community”.
Previous South Korean government reports on the human rights situation in the North were classified and not made public by the administration of Moon Jae-in, the former president, which cited the need to protect the identities of testifying defectors.
Mr Moon was accused by rights activists of putting the pursuit of denuclearisation talks with Kim Jong-un ahead of human rights concerns.