North Korea executes citizens for watching K-pop videos, says Seoul-based NGO

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At least seven executions under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were the result of individuals watching K-pop, or pop music from South Korea, according to a report from a Seoul-based NGO.

Deadly consequences: The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) published a report this month mapping out killings made under Kim.

  • The group addresses human rights violations and advocates for justice for victims of pre- and post-transition societies. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) provided funding for this project, allowing the researchers to collect crucial information about the killing sites, public executions, offenses punishable by the death penalty, public trials without execution, deaths under custody and body disposal in North Korea.

  • Relying on interviews they conducted with 683 North Korean escapees, the group found at least 23 public executions have occurred under Kim — though they believe this number could be higher, as it is difficult to get information out of the totalitarian country.

  • Seven of the executions were attributed to watching or distributing South Korean entertainment, which accounted for the highest number of cases. Other executions were attributed to drug-related crimes, prostitution, human trafficking, murder or attempted murder and “obscene acts".

  • The TJWG found that six of the seven executions took place in the city Hyesan between 2012 and 2014. Kim had ordered a crackdown on the city after finding out it was a major trading hub and distribution center for South Korean entertainment.

  • The report indicates that while carrying out sentences, soldiers gathered citizens to watch three officers fire nine shots to kill the individuals. Families were also forced to watch the deaths of their loved ones during the executions.


Kim has made possession or distribution of South Korean entertainment illegal and punishable by death. He has previously referred to K-pop as a “vicious cancer” and said its influence would make North Korea “crumble like a damp wall.”

Featured Image via Al Jazeera

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