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Public executions of North Korean refugees


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Looks like North Korea is publicly executing North Korean refugees who are captured in China, and then sent back to the totalitarian state. A videotape shot by other North Korean refugees and obtained by a Japanese media company shows a firing squad executing refugees for trying to flee to China.

A firing squad fires a few shots. In the distance, the blurry North Korean figures condemned to die for attempting to escape the totalitarian nation slump over, lifeless.

A Japanese media company said Thursday it has obtained footage of two sessions of public executions they say were carried out in North Korea on March 1-2. Nippon Television Network Corp. broadcast portions of the tape Wednesday.

"It's the first time that a video of public executions has been brought out of North Korea and shown to the outside world,'' said Hitoshi Takase, president of Japan Independent News Net, a company that produces news segments for Japanese television networks.

The blurry film -- apparently from a hidden camera -- appeared to show two people being shot in Hoeryong town near the border with China on March 1. The condemned faced the firing squad shortly after a brief trial in which a judge found them guilty of trying to cross into China and smuggle others there, News Net said.

In each case, three gunmen each fired three shots at a prisoner who was tied to a pole.

The judge sentenced two others to life imprisonment and gave seven others 10 to 15 years in labor and re-education camps, according to News Net's translation of the Korean soundtrack.

At another trial and execution session in the same town the following day, one more person was executed and one person was sentenced to 10 years of labor camp, the company said.

News Net said the video was carried out of North Korea by several defectors. It was filmed by unnamed residents of the Stalinist state, the company said in a statement.

It decided to publicize the tape after determining witness accounts of the executions matched the images captured on film, the statement said.

A Seoul-based group called the Commission to Help North Korean Refugees said last month that North Korea had executed 70 defectors who were captured in China and sent home to discourage its citizens from fleeing the country.

The number of people fleeing North Korea decreased drastically following the executions, the group said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said on Wednesday that Tokyo was concerned about the apparent evidence provided in the video of North Korea's public executions.

"I saw the news. The U.N. human rights committee, in its resolution on human rights in North Korea, has expressed deep concern that public executions are a serious violation of human rights,'' Hosoda said. "As a co-sponsor of the resolution, our country shares this understanding.''

A trickle of defectors from the communist North has swelled into a steady flow in recent years as more attempt to flee hunger and political repression in their homeland. Nearly 1,900 North Koreans defected to the South last year, an increase of almost 50 percent from the year before.

More than 100,000 North Koreans are living or hiding in China, the Commission to Help North Korean Refugees has estimated.

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To view the article one needs a subscription. Are you a registered NY Times reader? Maybe you can copy and edit the interesting bits.

I would be interested to know if North Korea border sentries are authorized to fire upon refugees close to the China border. That could involve bullets crossing into Chinese territory, making my holiday excursions to the Dandong area much more dangerous.

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Posted more of the article. The execution in the video was carried out in a town near the border with China. Sometimes the refugees can bribe the border sentries to let them cross into China.

Confucius, I hope your camera was not stolen by any of those refugees. 8)

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Thank you for supplying more information from your subscription.

I truly doubt the thief who stole my camera in Shenyang was a North Korean refugee.

I have not heard media reports of China sending North Koreans back to Pyongyang. Usually we only hear about North Korean refugees when they somehow get themselves inside embassy or consulate grounds, storm into international schools, or get caught climbing a fence somewhere in Beijing. In all of those cases the follow-up reports that I have read seem to describe scenarios in which the refugees go to another Asian nation like the Philippines before being transferred to South Korea.

If China is really sending North Koreans back then maybe there are incidents in Jilin and Liaoning provinces that are not getting international media attention. That would imply that it is not enough to just cross the Yalu River to gain freedom, one would have to at least make it all the way to Shenyang in order to have a chance at creating an international media story with attention that guarantees a safe ending to their ordeal. That makes Beijing the ideal destination for North Korean refugees, not simply the northern shoreline of the Yalu River.

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Here's a NYTimes article talking about the freedom North Koreans feel when they reach Jilin province:


One woman who plans to keep shuttling between countries is a 42-year-old military nurse. "I am in China now, and it is just like I had heard - very developed, full of people, with everything you could ever want to buy," she said. "But I have no ID card, no residence permit. I am in a free country, but I am not free."


North Korea's oppressive control of its citizens through policing and propaganda could be felt through the words of another woman. "Until the end of the 1980's, we were convinced we were the greatest country on earth, and in fact, many people still believe this," the woman said. "We've always been taught that other countries are poorer than we are. They say that South Korea is full of beggars and that people can't afford even to send their children to school."

As a side note, yesterday I was getting some coffee on Nanjing Road in Shanghai. I then walked down to the theater to see if they had anything good going on. After that I walked down Fuzhou lu towards Xizang Lu. All of a sudden, no pedestrian were allowed to cross the road. After waiting for a minute or two, about 20 limos came out of the World's Fair Building, some with the North Korean flag, so it was the North Korean prime minister (Pak Pong-ju, or at least part of his visiting team).

Perhaps seeing the impressive modernity of downtown Shanghai is the most effective way to nudge North Korean leader towards deeper reform.

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Perhaps seeing the impressive modernity of downtown Shanghai is the most effective way to nudge North Korean leader towards deeper reform.

Assuming that he cares of course.

The U.N. human rights committee, in its resolution on human rights in North Korea, has expressed deep concern that public executions are a serious violation of human rights

Sure, the UNHRC has expressed "deep concern" as usual through empty resolutions.

Argh, sorry for the grumbling >_<" !!

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That is just plain cr*p, price you pay for assisting citizens that want to experience what it feels like to be "free" (to a certain extent). Poor North Koreans, who [still] believes that their country is the best country in the world and that South Korea is filled with beggars, since I never visited North Korea, so I can't really confirm this, but I bet there are a lot of beggars in N.K. :-?

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  • 3 weeks later...
Perhaps seeing the impressive modernity of downtown Shanghai is the most effective way to nudge North Korean leader towards deeper reform.

Here is an article saying that Kim Jong Il is currently implementing small-scale market reforms. Based on this article, North Korea is not anywhere close to being on the verge of collapsing, as the US is hoping. From an objective standpoint, the US is only thinking for itself when it wishes North Korea to collapse. A collapse of the North Korean state could only bring a massive flood of refugees into South Korea and China, a scenario that neither country wants. Furthermore it will destabilize South Korean society.

Wushijiao, I recall you saying that engaging North Korea is the best approach in encouraging it to pursue reform. You are correct. It looks like China and South Korea is doing all the engagement, and not the US, who only hopes for North Korea's collapse without thinking about its consequences to China and South Korea.

Currently China is investing in North Korea and trade has been growing between the two countries. While China sends refrigerators and other goods across the Yalu, North Korea is sending raw resources into China. South Korea has built an industrial park in the North as a cash flow sources.

Also the widespread famine that existed in North Korea during the 1990's is less prevalent today.


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