North Korea publicly executed around 80 people earlier this month, many for watching smuggled South Korean TV shows, a South Korean newspaper reported.
The source, said to be “familiar” with the North’s internal affairs and recently returned from the country, said the executions were carried out in seven cities on November 3.
In the eastern port of Wonsan, the authorities gathered 10,000 people in a sports stadium to watch the execution of eight people by firing squad, the source quoted one eyewitness as saying.
Most were charged with watching illicit South Korean TV dramas, and some with prostitution.
Several of the cities, including Wonsan and Pyongsong in the west, have been designated as special economic zones aimed at attracting foreign investment to boost the North’s moribund economy.
Watching unsanctioned foreign films or TV — especially those from the capitalist South — is a serious offense in North Korea.
However, efforts to control their distribution have been circumvented by technology, with an increasing number being smuggled in on DVDs, flash drives and mp3 players.
As well as South Korean soap operas, US shows like Desperate Housewives are believed to have a small but avid following.