Public executions double in the North in 2016

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Public executions double in the North in 2016

North Korea publicly executed about 60 people this year, a sharp increase from the past, a source informed about the reclusive communist state said Friday.

“After Kim Jong-un took office, an average of 30 people were publicly executed every year, but 60 people were killed by August this year alone, more than twice the average,” he said. “If this continues, far more people will die by the end of this year.”

After his father Kim Jong-il died in December 2011, the young ruler took power and has relied on the politics of fear to exercise control. “Those executed were anti-government officials arrested during a major ideology crackdown in early May before the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party and ordinary people who complained about hardships in their lives under international sanctions,” the source said.

The North executed family members of a defector and a middleman who arranged overseas money transfers in early February after convicting them of espionage. In April, a middleman who helped defectors was also shot to death in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province.

Pyongyang also increased punishments for people caught watching South Korean movies and TV dramas.

After the North launched the so-called “200-Day Battle” on June 1 to mobilize the public for economic projects, the authorities are arresting people who made unauthorized trips and punishing them with forced labor, the South Korean intelligence authority said.

“At the end of May, before the campaign started in June, Kim ordered a major crackdown by the security agencies,” said another source.

“The 200-Day Battle is an ideology competition and anyone who fails to keep up with the standard does not deserve to live in the North,” he quoted Kim as saying. “The March 12 task force should be reactivated nationwide to arrest all unemployed people.”

The March 12 task force is supposed to control the public through extensive crackdowns. On Kim’s order, the team was set up on March 12, 2014.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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