North Korea executed man for listening to K-pop, report from defectors shows

A 22-year-old North Korean was publicly executed for watching and sharing South Korean films and music, a new report claims, highlighting Pyongyang’s desperate attempts to stem the flow of outside information and culture.

The case, detailed in the 2024 Report on North Korean Human Rights released by South Korea’s unification ministry on Thursday, compiles testimonies from 649 North Korean defectors.

According to an unnamed defector’s testimony, the young man from South Hwanghae province was publicly executed in 2022 for listening to 70 South Korean songs, watching three films, and distributing them, falling foul of a North Korean law adopted in 2020 that bans “reactionary ideology and culture”.

The report details extensive efforts by North Korean authorities to control outside information flow, especially targeting the youth.

Other instances of crackdown include punishments for “reactionary” practices such as brides wearing white dresses, grooms carrying the bride, wearing sunglasses, or drinking alcohol from wine glasses – all seen as South Korean customs.

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