Report: Fishing Boat Captain Publicly Executed In North Korea For Listening To American Radio

(Jeon Heon-Kyun-Pool/Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A North Korean fishing boat captain was reportedly executed in mid-October after admitting he secretly listened to radio broadcasts from banned American media outlet Radio Free Asia.

The fishing boat captain — identified by his surname Choi — confessed to listening to the U.S. government-funded outlet for over 15 years, North Korean authorities told Radio Free Asia in a Dec. 16 statement. He was reportedly turned in to the provincial security department by a crewman at his base in the northeastern port city of Chongjin.

“In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time,” a law enforcement official from North Hamgyong province said, according to Radio Free Asia. “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.”

DANDONG, CHINA - MAY 23: (CHINA OUT) North Korean soldiers ride on a boat used as a local ferry as they cross the Yalu river north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China near Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. China has long been North Korea's main ally and trading partner, but relations are increasingly strained by continued missile testing and provocations by the regime of Kim Jong Un. The North is almost entirely dependent on trade with China to feeds its impoverished economy, yet it has ignored calls by the international community to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. At least three-quarters of trade between the two nations flows through points along its 880-mile long shared border, a divide that reveals stark contrasts in development. Cities such as Dandong boast high-rise buildings and advanced infrastructure, and the Friendship Bridge serves as the conduit for the bulk of trade. From hired boats along the Yalu river, Chinese tourists peer into the reclusive North, marked by soldiers, meagre villages, and depleted farmland. The United States has pressured China to do more to leverage its clout with North Korea, though Beijing remains concerned that outright regime collapse in Pyongyang could trigger a rush of refugees across the border. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean soldiers ride on a boat used as a local ferry as they cross the Yalu river (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The official reportedly noted that Choi was charged with subversion against the ruling Korean Workers Party, according to Radio Free Asia. (RELATED: Kim Jong Un Is Reportedly Executing People For Not Following COVID-19 Protocols)

“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants,” the official said. “They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”

Radio Free Asia is partially funded by an annual grant from the United States Agency for Global Media, according to its website. The outlet reported it broadcasts Korean-language programming into North Korea over radio transmitters located in South Korea and the Northern Mariana Islands.

North Korea has strict censorship laws regulating foreign media outlets and frequently jams radio broadcasts emitted from South Korea and other locations, according to Freedom House.

The Supreme People’s Assembly adopted the “Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Law” during a plenary meeting Dec. 4 that aims to prevent the “spread of the anti-socialist ideology and culture,” according to The Korea Times. The new law could lead to more severe penalties on North Koreans caught consuming foreign media.