‘It could happen to us – all members of the North Korean elite’

A former prisoner told researchers in August the executions involved gang-rape of women in prison work squads

Kim Jong-un has executed seven people for watching or sharing k-pop videos, research team Newseye claims, citing interviews with people who spoke with a former North Korean worker in a Chinese labour camp in August last year.

One prisoner in a labour camp for four years in China told researchers: “Seven men were executed over a period of three months … Five of them were party members. They were all in the prison work squad for manufacturing fireworks. The other two men were civilian volunteers.

“They were accused of looking at the videos and spreading these videos outside prison and factory walls. Kim Jong-un felt that this was an attack on the party … they were gang-raped by some of the male inmates.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo quoted two sources as saying Kim “ordered an internal investigation of the party’s activities” after hearing about k-pop videos.

One source said at least six people were executed in the Shandong province and all of them were members of the Korean People’s Army’s 25th brigade.

The crackdown came after the men were stripped naked, beaten with pipes, had clothes cut off and rolled up in sheets.

North Korea ‘ordered officials to watch K-pop videos’, Seoul newspaper claims Read more

The prisoner in the labour camp in China told Newseye: “When I saw those reports last year I felt like I had to do something because if k-pop could happen, then it could happen to us – all members of the North Korean elite.

“I went to visit my family after four years of work at the camp and met with other friends who were in the work squad … The whole ward looked like a military base. We were under surveillance 24 hours a day.

“One of the guards was really thin. I said, ‘Can you breathe today?’ I felt his breath rushing over me when he passed through a group of us. But the people who stood at the gate and let you in were even thinner.

“Two of the guards ordered us to dig a hole for scrap metal … It was white, it had a ball-bearing inside and just enough space to expand and contract. Another guard led us to the hole and then ordered us to kneel. He asked us who had a better hand for digging. I said, ‘Not me. I have a little bit more flex.’

“Later, he started walking on top of me and asked me to kick him in the back. But I couldn’t.”

This happened after two guards in the camp warned prisoners not to watch. But the prisoners would end up watching k-pop videos anyway, the prisoner said.

Another prisoner in China said: “There was no way the administration could not see what was happening in that place – no way. Everyone was watching k-pop videos, including Kim Jong-un.”

The name of the party member being considered for execution is “G”, and the other names are “H”, “N”, “X”, “Y” and “Z”.

“G” was elected to the ruling party’s powerful Central Committee in November 2016, but in May 2017 he reportedly escaped, although his whereabouts are unknown.

In a recent report, Newseye claimed that as of 12 August, more than 200 people had been executed by Kim since 2016. Their stories included accusations that they illegally used North Korean passports, assisted overseas political refugees, or worshipped at the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

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