Seoul Report Reveals Public Execution in North Korea for COVID-19 Rule Violations

Seoul: A recent human rights white paper released on Wednesday by the Korea Institute for National Unification, a South Korean state-run think tank, has disclosed that North Korea executed individuals publicly for violating COVID-19 regulations. The report, based on testimonies from a North Korean defector who arrived in South Korea last year, marks a concerning development in the country's enforcement of its pandemic measures.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the specifics of the execution, such as the date and method, were not detailed to protect the family members of the defector, who are still in North Korea and could face potential reprisals. The white paper, which also includes interviews with 70 other defectors who arrived in South Korea between 2018 and 2023, suggests a potential decline in public executions. However, it remains unclear whether this decrease is factual or if the executions are being carried out away from public view.

North Korea has faced long-standing accusations of serious human rights violations, including public executions, political prisoner camps, torture, and other abuses. The white paper highlights that the North Korean regime has intensified its control over residents by expanding the list of crimes punishable by death, particularly with new legislation concerning antivirus measures, drug crimes, and accessing external information.

The report also reveals North Korea's heightened efforts to restrict access to foreign information. A 2020 law aimed at "rejecting reactionary ideology and culture" prohibits the distribution and viewing of media from South Korea, the United States, and other countries, reflecting Pyongyang's fear of external influences threatening leader Kim Jong-un's regime.

Incidents of severe punishment for accessing foreign media were cited in the report. In one case, a person received a seven-month labor sentence in 2019 for watching a South Korean soap opera. The report also notes routine crackdowns on computers, mobile phones, and voice recorders.

The white paper sheds light on the dire state of North Korea's public health system, pointing to significant violations of health rights. Defectors reported the necessity of hiring doctors privately or bribing health officials for medical treatment. The scarcity of medicines and medical knowledge has led residents to rely on drugs, resulting in instances of fatal drug addiction.

Additionally, the report addresses the status of women's rights in North Korea. While policy measures have been introduced to enhance women's rights and their economic roles in households have improved, issues of domestic violence and rape in the military persist.

scroll to top