North Korean Police Beat People To Death To Avoid Wasting Bullets In Brutal Public Executions


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The people of North Korea have experienced unspeakable horrors in their society, as extreme human rights violations are reportedly common aspects of life in the hermit kingdom.

North Korea regularly carries out brutal public executions at schools, sports stadiums, and markets for minor offenses such as petty theft and the distribution of South Korean media, a Transitional Justice Working Group report based on the testimony of several hundred North Korean defectors.

The Transitional Justice Working Group is a non-governmental organization in Seoul dedicated to human rights in North Korea. The group receives the majority of its funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by Congress, Reuters revealed Tuesday.

Kim Jong-un has reportedly purged hundreds of officials since he took power nearly six years ago.

“My family and I were in disbelief after seeing senior officials I knew being killed with anti-aircraft guns and my kids’ friends being locked up in prison camps,” Ri Jong Ho, a former North Korean official, said in a recent interview with Voice of America, detailing the violent purges a few years ago. “The regime killed hundreds of people, including officials, their friends, their families, and even children with heavy machine guns.”

The young dictator reportedly had two officials gunned down last summer, one for the crime of falling asleep in a meeting. Another batch of five senior officials who were killed earlier this year for the submission of inaccurate government reports.

When officials are killed, the state will sometimes require officials from other towns and provinces to come and watch.

Executions are also common in prison camps to intimidate potential escapees.

Once, when two brothers broke out of a North Korean prison camp, the guards immediately murdered seven of their family members. After they were recaptured, the two brothers were beheaded, a former North Korean prison guard revealed in a shocking testimony in May. “The two brothers were beheaded in front of everyone,” she told reporters. “They called everyone to watch as a warning not to flee. The other prisoners then had to throw stones at them.”

In another incident, she saw a woman get stripped naked and set on fire for inconveniencing another guard.

The former guard was describing the crimes against humanity carried out during the reign of the previous generation of the Kim dynasty, but such atrocities are believed to have continued under the ruthless rule of Kim Jong-un.

But, North Korean authorities apparently also execute civilians in public, ensuring that Kim family’s reign of terror can be seen in all tiers of society. Civilians are publicly executed for menial infractions, such as stealing produce and factory equipment or distributing South Korean media. Authorities will usually shoot the suspect on the spot, but in some cases, North Korea will reportedly beat people to death rather than spend ammo.

“Some crimes were considered not worth wasting bullets on,” one defector revealed in the human rights recent report.

In the 1990s, North Korea would hang people in public places, but this practice was stopped shortly after the turn of the century due to strong international pressure.

The Transitional Justice Working Group report also revealed that in some cases, North Korean citizens will literally be forced to dig their own graves before they are beaten to death and buried. The defectors assert that such extrajudicial executions are not uncommon.

The NGO, which consists of activists and volunteers from five different countries, is preparing a case against the North Korean regime for the International Criminal Court and has spent years tracking mass graves in the reclusive country.

“We don’t know when there will be a trial or other steps to hold the perpetrators of the human rights abuses accountable, but that time will come, and we want to be as ready as possible,” a U.S.-based human rights activist told the New York Times. The group has identified more than 300 sites where executions are believed to have occurred and around 50 mass graves. Observers suspect far more execution sites and graves remain unaccounted for.

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