The atrocities in North Korea reached another peak on November 3, as roughly 80 people were publicly executed in seven different cities for crimes such as watching films made in South Korea, dealing in pornography or possessing a Bible.
The executions were the first mass executions of the Kim Jong-un regime, according to JoongAng Ilbo. Approximately 10 people were murdered in the cities of Pyongsong in South Pyongan, Wonsan in Kangwon Province, Chongjin in North Hamgyong Province, and Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province.
Wonsan’s executions were carried out by binding a group of people to stakes, putting white sacks over their heads and blasting them to pieces with a machine gun in front of thousands of witnesses at a stadium, among whom were many children. Families of the executed victims were sent to prison camps along with the victim’s accomplices.
Many of the victims were condemned for some connection to South Korea, such as watching their films. Others were condemned for sexual corruption. There were reports from South Korea that Kim Jong-un ‘s wife Ri Sol-ju, who used to sing in the state-run Unhasu Orchestra, may have participated with orchestra members in being filmed having sex and selling the films as pornography, a crime which resulted in the execution of 9 orchestra members in September. Unhasu members reportedly told North Korean officials, “Ri Sol-ju also loved to play like us.”
There was talk that the members were executed so they could not speak of her actions, and the November executions were an attempt by Kim Jong-un to frighten the populace into avoiding another pornography scandal.
Scuttlebutt said that the capital of Pyongyang had no executions because Kim needs the wealthy citizens of the city for backing. Ahn Chan-il, an analyst who defected and now works at the World North Korea Research Center, said, “It is the beginning of the Kim Jong-un-style of governance, buying the favor of the privileged class of North Korea in Pyongyang.”