North Korea Publicly Executes Owner of Fishing Fleet for Listening to Banned US Radio

Choi, who owned a fleet of over 50 ships, was turned in by a crewman in the port city of Chongjin after he learnt that he used to regularly listen to the US-funded Radio Free Asia.

The owner of a fishing fleet was reportedly executed in public by North Korean authorizes for listening to a banned US-funded radio station while he was at sea. The captain, known by his first name Choi, who was in his 40s, gunned down by a firing squad for listening to Radio Free Asia (RFA) for years when he was in the military, according to sources speaking to RFA.

Although the incident took place sometime in late October, it got reported only on Friday. South Korea is known for going to extraordinary lengths to prevent its citizens from listening to outside information and often takes exemplary actions against violators, which includes executing them in public.

No Mercy

death sentence
Image for representational purpose only

Choi, who was the owner of a fleet of more than 50 ships, was turned in by a resentful crewman at his base in the northeastern port city of Chongjin after he learnt that he was a regular listener of the US-funded radio station. "During an investigation by the provincial security department, Captain Choi confessed to listening to RFA broadcasts since the age of 24 when he was serving in the military as a radio operator," a source told RFA.

After he was found guilty, Choi was publicly shot at the base in front of at least 100 other captains and managers of the facility's fish processing plants. Another source told RFA that Choi became "arrogant and disrespectful" as his wealth and power as a fleet owner grew, prompting a fisherman to report his unauthorized listening choice. However, the decision to execute him publicly has been condemned by the international community and once again proves the strict actions taken by Kim Jong Un's regime against the country's citizens for violating its laws.

Setting an Example

Picture for representation
The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy. Reuters

Choi had been catching fish for Kim Jong Un's government, which had ordered North Korean fishermen to ramp up their hauls amid food shortages and to raise cash in the face of international sanctions aimed at curbing resources for nuclear weapons. However, when in sea Choi would continue to listen to the radio station.

Choi, reportedly had been listening to RFA for the past 15 years and when North Korean authorities learnt this they decided to take an action that could be set as an example for others. "The security authorities decided then that the time to re-educate him had long passed, so they executed him by firing squad," another source told the outlet.

The Washington-based news outlet is funded via an annual grant from the independent United States Agency for Global Media, according to its website. RFA broadcasts Korean-language programming for six hours daily in North Korea via short-wave radio from transmitters roughly 1,900 miles away in the US-controlled Northern Mariana Islands, as well as transmitters in South Korea.

However, even then, listening to anything that has any foreign links is prohibited in North Korea. In fact, for many, what's more surprising is how did Choi' habit of listening to the US-aided radio station go unnoticed by the authorities.