Over 300 public execution sites discovered in N. Korea

Steven Watt, June 12, 2019, 9:25 a.m.


Human rights activists have identified over 300 public execution sites in North Korea and mass graves as well as pinpointing the locations where the evidence incriminating the brutal regime may be stored.

The Transitional Justice Working Group, which pinpoints mass graves around the world with cutting-edge mapping technology, published a report on Tuesday based on interviews of 610 North Korean defectors in South Korea and satellite images.

The report lists 323 public execution sites it identified. Most of them are in border regions such as North Hamgyong Province (200) and Ryanggang Province (67).

Most executions are conducted in open spaces like riverbanks, vacant lots, farm fields, open-air markets, hills, mountain slopes, stadiums, and schoolyards, often with more than 1,000 spectators.

Some of the victims are accused of serious crimes like murders, but most are at worst guilty of offenses like theft of copper or cattle or human trafficking, and amid a total absence of due process their guilt is impossible to confirm.

Some 294 public executions were by firing squad, 25 by hanging, and one by poison.

In most cases, the families were forced to watch but were not allowed to take the bodies. Some defectors testified that state security agents exposed the bodies for three to four hours after execution.

Several respondents said they had watched such executions, including one who was seven years old at the time. Elementary schoolchildren were forced to stand in the front row, secondary schoolchildren in the middle row, and adults in the back.

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