Advocacy group: North Korea executed at least 7 for watching, distributing pop music

According to a South Korea-based human rights advocacy group, North Korea has conducted executions of no fewer than seven individuals over the past 10 years simply for viewing or engaging in the distribution of popular music videos, as Fox News reports.

A recent report from Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) detailed interviews conducted with more than 600 defectors from North Korea held in order to get a firmer grasp of when, where, and how frequently the executions took place.

The product of those inquiries, entitled “Mapping Killings Under Kim Jong Un,” revealed that at least seven such killings linked to involvement with popular music occurred since 2012.

The New York Post reported that according to the group’s findings, some of the killings were carried out in public as a deterrent to others, with family members of those executed often forced to watch the process.

The TJWG report outlined a number of offenses that were apparently punishable by execution during the surveyed time period, and they included things such as “watching or distributing South Korean videos” and selling compact discs and USB drives featuring music videos, films, and drama programs from South Korea.

As North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un has long railed against what he perceives as the corrupting influence of South Korean media in all its forms, which he likens to a “vicious cancer” that must be eradicated from the population.

The Post further noted that Kim has claimed in the past that cultural influences from the south have the ability to inflict undue damage to the “attire, hairstyles, speeches [and] behaviors” of his country’s younger population.

Interestingly, back in 2018, Kim welcomed a contingent of K-pop notables to his country’s capital city of Pyongyang and attended a concert that included a number of popular South Korean acts.

While it was reported at the time that the North Korean dictator displayed “much interest” and even clapped along when the performers were on stage, his government has continued to caution that the type of cultural expression so common in the south had the potential to cause his own society to “crumble like a damp wall,” and if the TJWG’s report is any indication, that stance unfortunately appears to have prevailed.