Two North Korean teenagers were publicly executed for watching and selling South Korean movies, according to reports. Both boys, believed to be between the ages of 16 and 17, were shot by a firing squad on an airfield, in front of scared bystanders back in Hyesan, a city on the Chinese border.
Although the horrific incident happened in October, word of their murders didn't come to light until this week. The executions took place after officials held public meetings to warn the public that they would crack down on crimes involving foreign media, particularly from South Korea, which is more affluent and democratic.
Besides the two boys aged 16 and 17, a third boy of their age was also executed by the firing squad for killing his stepmother, with the locals told that the murders were "equally terrible." Two sources were made to witness the executions who described the horrific crimes to Radio Free Asia.
"Hyesan residents gathered in groups at the runway," one of the sources told the radio station.
"The authorities put the teen-aged students in front of the public, sentenced them to death, and immediately shot them."
Such executions are not unheard of in North Korea. Public executions are frequently used by authorities to frighten people into acting in a certain way.
In recent years, the distribution of South Korean and Western films, songs, and TV shows has grown in popularity in North Korea. Smugglers carry the media into the nation from China, and people then share it among themselves.
North Korea is becoming increasingly concerned that its youth are being influenced by South Korean culture, which is seen as decadent and anti-revolutionary. Over the years, there have been stories of officials randomly seizing iPhones and harshly penalizing offenders.
Brainwashing Its Own People
Kim Jong-un is sensitive to any South Korean media that manages to cross the border because he sees it as an American puppet state. However, despite rigorous regulations, these things are frequently brought into the nation illegally on USB sticks or SD cards.
Usually, these are carried across the border from China and traded between North Koreans. In order to catch people selling the drives, the communist authority in power hires agents from the common public.
One of these spies accused the two teenagers of selling thumb drives containing the programs in the neighborhood market.
Over the years, there have been stories of officials randomly seizing iPhones and harshly penalizing offenders.
Citizens who are caught watching foreign films will be sent to disciplinary labor centers, a Hyesan source claims. If they are caught again, they will spend five years in a penal labor camp along with their parents, who will be held accountable for their children's incorrect education.
However, even if they are children, they could receive a death sentence if they are found to be distributing or selling South Korean films.