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    North Korea Executes Man (22) for Listening to K-Pop

    North Korea executed a 22-year-old man for secretly listening to K-pop, an unprecedented punishment under a new crackdown by Kim Jong Un on Southern entertainment. This execution is part of a more extensive purge against what the leader has called “vicious cancer” corrupting North Korean society. The executions are intended to strike fear into others to deter them from the banned content.

    The 22-year-old man’s name has not been reported, but he was just one of those executed for either viewing or selling South Korean media. This happened in Hyesan, a city near the Chinese border that had become a hotbed for smuggling South Korean entertainment into North Korea. In most cases, these executions are public, and the regime has not been shy to force accusers’ families to witness them—which speaks volumes for its brutal methods for controlling and deterring dissent.

    Similar incidents have happened during the past decade. For example, in 2021 alone, the Transitional Justice Working Group, an NGO based in Seoul, said at least seven people were executed for watching South Korean pop culture.

    According to data, the group reported 23 public executions since the regime of Kim Jong Un started; many of those executions are related to drug-related crimes, prostitution, and human trafficking. Such public executions are supposedly designed to instill fear into the hearts of people and ward off such foreign influence that the regime perceived to be a danger to its control.

    The performances of such extreme measures also include the execution of minors. Three teenagers were executed for watching and distributing South Korean dramas. It is a draconian approach to convey zero tolerance towards any kind of foreign media, which they believe jeopardizes their ideological purity and control over citizens.

    In a reportedly stunningly North Korean incident, a student has been executed in public for having a USB drive containing movies and music from South Korea. It wasn’t just that it was an execution in public, but more of a grim spectacle for the other students to see and one aimed at reinforcing regime policy. These examples demonstrate that nothing is too harsh or surprising for North Korea to keep its ideological control and protect itself from the intrusion of foreign culture, mainly from South Korea​.

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