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05th Dec 2022

Two teenagers executed in North Korea for watching South Korean movies

Steve Hopkins

The boys were sentenced and shot on the spot

Two teenagers in North Korea were reportedly executed by firing squad for watching and selling movies from South Korea.

According to reports, the boys, thought to be aged between 16 and 17, were shot on an airfield in front of locals in the city of Hyesan, on the border with China, in October.

News of the death only emerged last week.

A third boy of the same age was executed for murdering his stepmother, with locals told the crimes were “equally evil”, Radio Free Asia reported.

The radio station said locals were forced to watch the executions.

Two sources who were forced to watch the executions confirmed what had happened to Radio Free Asia (RFA).

One told the radio station that Hyesan residents gathered in groups on the runway, where authorities had assembled the boys.

The teenagers were then sentenced to death and immediately shot.

“They said, ‘Those who watch or distribute South Korean movies and dramas, and those who disrupt social order by murdering other people, will not be forgiven and will be sentenced to the maximum penalty–death,’” a resident of the city told RFA’s Korean service.

Foreign media, particularly anything deemed to be ‘Western’, is prohibited in North Korea, as Kim Jong-un views South Korea as an American puppet state. And material that crosses the border is heavily policed.

According to reports, the teens were dobbed in by for selling thumb drives containing the movies in the local marketplace.

Executions of this nature are rare, but not unheard of, in North Korea and are often used to frighten people into following the rules.

North Korean youth caught watching foreign movies face being sent to a disciplinary labour centre, one source in Hyesan said.

If the youth offends a second time they’re sent to a correctional camp for five years. Their parents are also sent to the camp, for failing to discipline their children.

However, anyone caught distributing or selling South Korean movies can face the death penalty, the source added to Radio Free Asia.

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