Some 500 people in North Korea attended a public execution of a man and a woman caught reading South Korean propaganda, an activist claimed Sunday citing sources in the North. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea said security services rounded up some 500 people including 50 family members of South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims and made them watch the execution.
The victims were a 45-year-old woman accused of reading a South Korean propaganda leaflet and failing to notify authorities and a high-ranking regional military officer charged with pocketing the dollar bills that were sent along with the leaflets.
Choi said the families of the two were sent to a camp for political prisoners in South Pyongan Province.
Activist groups recently gathered at the border in Gangwon Province and other areas and sent leaflets, one-dollar bills and DVDs to North Korea attached to helium balloons.
"We have information from a source that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was going to visit Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province soon, and it looks like authorities there held a public execution to warn the people there off any signs of dissent," Choi said. "It seems North Korea is stepping up monitoring and crackdowns on people who read or listen to anti-communist propaganda to ensure the hereditary transfer of power" from Kim to his son Jong-un.
North Korean defectors said anyone who picks up an anti-communist leaflet must notify the authorities on pain of severe punishment. They said North Koreans are taught from a young age that eating South Korean-made cookies causes gut rot while picking up pens or lighters made in the South will make the hands decay.