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North Korean defectors living in Seoul pray for peace and reunification of the divided Korean Peninsula, during a church service in Seoul April 7, 2013. (CNS photo/ Lee Jae-Won, Reuters)
From the FOX News site:

As many as 80 people were publicly executed in North Korea earlier this month, some for offenses as minor as watching South Korean movies or possessing a Bible.  

South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported that the so-called criminals were put to death in seven cities across North Korea on Nov. 3, in the first known large-scale public executions by the Kim Jong-un regime.

A source, who is familiar with internal affairs in the North and who recently visited the country, told the paper that about 10 people were killed in each city.

In Wonsan, a city of about 330,000 on the eastern shore of North Korea, eight people—heads covered with bags—were tied to stakes in the Shinpoong Stadium in front a forcefully gathered crowd of 10,000 people, including children, and then killed with machine gun fire. The bodies were reportedly so riddles with bullet holes that it was difficult to identify the victims. "Most of the Wonsan victims," reported FOX, "were charged with watching or illegally trafficking South Korean videos, involvement in prostitution, or possessing a Bible." Relatives and suspected "accomplices" of the victims have been sent to prison camps.

There is no clear reason for the executions. One government official noted they occurred in cities that are centers of economic development. Wonsan is a port city that Kim is reportedly planning to make a tourist destination by building an airport, hotels and a ski resort on Mount Masik.

The English site of the Korea JoongAng Daily, which is the original source of the story, reports:

The idea that executions would be held simultaneously on a weekend in seven cities suggests an extreme measure by the central government to stamp out public unrest or capitalistic zeal accompanying its development projects.

The victims seem to be guilty of crimes related to South Korea - like watching South Korean films - or accused of corruption of public morals, especially sexual misconduct. 

North Korean law allows executions for conspiring to overthrow the government, treason and terrorism. But North Korea has also been known to order public executions for minor crimes such as religious activism, use of cell phones and stealing food to intimidate the public.

The site also reports that "there were no executions in the capital of Pyongyang, where Kim relies on the support of the country’s elite class. He continues to build luxury and recreational facilities in the capital, such as a new water park."

 
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Carl E. Olson editor@catholicworldreport.com

Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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