North Korea Criticized Over Public Execution Of High Schoolers For Watching K-Dramas

Citizens were forced to watch their execution.

Content Warning

This article includes descriptions of violence that may disturb some readers.

Two eyewitnesses recently reported to the global media that this year North Korean government executed two teenagers for watching and circulating South Korean movies and dramas.

Illegal DVDs of foreign media on sale in Pyeongyang | Alexander F. Yuan/AP

According to reports, the estimated age of the victims were 16 and 17. The execution took place at an airfield in Hyesan city. Residents were gathered at the runway in groups where the two high schoolers were brought out and sentenced to death. They were immediately shot down by the firing squad as the regular citizens watched in horror.

A view of Hyesan, Yanggang Province, in August 2018 | Daily NK

A third teenager was also executed for murdering his stepmother, which is a crime the North Korean government equated with watching South Korean shows, as claimed by the witnesses.

They said, ‘Those who watch or distribute South Korean movies and dramas, and those who disrupt social order by murdering other people, will not be forgiven and will be sentenced to the maximum penalty–death.

—A Hyesan city resident who shared the story with media

Though these types of executions are rare in the country, they are not completely obsolete. They are notoriously used by the government to scare citizens into obedient submission. The students were given death sentences nearly a week after authorities held public meetings to announce that the government would start strict crackdowns on crimes involving foreign media, especially South Korean media.

South Korean netizens were shocked and disgusted at the news, noting how the dream of the two countries reuniting is now unrealistic if there is so much hate for South’s culture up North.

  •  ” And I bet you Jong Un himself listens to Korean singers and watches Korean dramas… how selfish can you be as a dictator~.”
  • “It’s sad that we’re the only divided country in the world. But this country antagonizes our country’s culture so much, reunification is impossible.”
  • “Dramas that we watch while comfortably laying on the floor of our bedrooms is an act that North Koreans must put their lives on the line to do…’
  • “A high schooler, still so young… 🤦🏻‍♀️ This is so crazy… no wonder people are defecting…”
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