More than 500 North Koreans revealed that Kim Jong-un’s regime executes those who watch South Korean videos, use drugs or practice religion

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) and his daughter (left) in a sports competition with members of the regime and the Ministry of National Defense, at an undisclosed location in North Korea, on February 17, 2023. (Korea Central News Agency /Korea News Service via AP) (Uncredited/)

The regime of North Korea execute people for possession and use of drugs, sharing videos from South Korean media, and religious activitieswhile suppressing the human rights and freedom of its citizens, Seoul said in a report on Thursday.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, based the 450-page report on testimony collected between 2017 and 2022 from more than 500 North Koreans who fled their homeland.

“The right to life of North Korean citizens appears to be seriously threatened”the ministry said in the report.

“Executions are widely carried out for acts that do not warrant the death penalty, including drug offences, South Korean video sharing, and religious and superstitious activities.”he added.

The South Korean government’s findings are in line with investigations by the UN and reports from non-governmental organizations.

The regime of Pyongyang He has rejected criticism of the conditions of his rights as part of a plot to overthrow his dictatorship.

The report gave details of rampant rights abuses perpetrated by the regime in communities, prison camps and other places, including public executions, torture and arbitrary arrests.

Deaths and torture occur regularly in the detention centers and some people were summarily executed after being caught trying to cross the border, the ministry said.

The report came as South Korea seeks to highlight its isolated neighbor’s failure to improve living conditions as it rushes to build up its nuclear and missile arsenals.

The President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeolsaid the report should better inform the international community about North Korea’s “appalling” abuses, saying Pyongyang deserved “not one penny” of economic aid as it pursues its nuclear ambitions.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.  Jung Yeon-Je/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. Jung Yeon-Je/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo (POOL/)

The conservative Yoon’s approach is a clear departure from that of his liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-inwho faced criticism for his less outspoken position on Northern rights as he sought to improve ties and establish a relationship with his leader, Kim Jong-un.

The Unification Ministry is required by law to conduct an annual assessment of the rights situation in the North.

Nearly 34,000 North Koreans have settled in South Korea, but the number of defectors has dropped sharply due to increased border security.

North Korean arrivals hit a record low of just 63 in 2021 amid lockdowns for COVID-19before rising to 67 in 2022, ministry data showed.

(With information from Reuters)

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