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Beef Sale Leads to Public Execution in North Korea – The Brutal Details

Nine North Korean residents were publicly executed for selling beef. In North Korea, individuals are not allowed to own, slaughter, or sell cows. This information was revealed through reports by Daily NK Japan and RFA (Radio Free Asia) on the 13th.

Nine male and female defendants, who were caught selling beef, were handed over to a North Korean military court for special military trial. / Daily NK News Capture
According to media reports, the executions took place on August 30th at 4 p.m. near an empty lot around the Hyesan City airport.

The executed individuals included seven men and two women. They were charged with selling 2100 cows that had died from disease from 2017 until February this year and were handed over to a special military court. Among them were the head of the veterinary office, a salesperson at the Yanggang Province commercial management office, a farm executive, the owner of Pyongyang A restaurant, and a college student who had served at the military’s 10th inspection post.

It is uncommon for North Korean citizens to eat beef. Cows are mainly used as a means of agricultural production. The North Korean authorities also prohibit individuals from owning, slaughtering, or selling cows. Violators are treated as political criminals, not just economic offenders. However, there is public opinion among the residents of Hyesan City that executing someone for selling beef is a harsh measure, according to media reports.

The method of execution appears to have been brutal. According to RFA, the Korean People’s Army special court executed each defendant by shooting their bodies with an anti-aircraft gun. An anti-aircraft gun is a heavy machine gun made by combining several guns. Some Hyesan City residents who witnessed the horrific execution reportedly harbored resentment against the authorities. One North Korean resident said, “I didn’t know they would be executed so brutally. Is selling beef from already dead cows a crime worthy of public execution?”

There were doubts among the residents about whether the nine executed individuals actually sold 2100 dead cows. With the economy worsening due to COVID-19, suspicions arose that scapegoats were created to control public sentiment through a “politics of fear”.

In response, RFA said, “Kim Jong-un (Chairman of the State Affairs Commission) initially banned public executions of ordinary citizens to shed the image of a brutal dictator’s son. However, with the economy worsening due to COVID-19, public executions have returned. In the past, in March of the 1990s, there were instances of gathering residents and publicly executing them for the reason of slaughtering cows.”

North Korea had significantly loosened the beef regulations at one point but tightened them again as the economy worsened due to COVID-19. Citing a North Korean insider, Daily NK Japan said, “The Central Party (Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea) issued a directive on September 11th, 2020, to each branch of the party, administrative agencies, and judicial agencies to strictly manage and control the act of individuals privately owning, smuggling, and slaughtering cows for agricultural use.” However, the media analyzed that the influence of the period when regulations were relaxed is still ongoing. They further predicted, “Residents who got a taste of beef during the period of relaxed regulations are showing sensitive reactions. It might become increasingly difficult for Kim Jong Un to continue ruling by the politics of fear.”

Daily NK Japan, citing a North Korean insider, mentioned, “The Central Party (Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea) issued a directive on September 11, 2020, to each branch of the party, administrative agencies, and judicial agencies to strictly manage and control the act of individuals owning, smuggling, and slaughtering cows for agricultural use.” However, the media analyzed that the influence of the period when regulations were loose was still ongoing. They further predicted, “Residents who got a taste of beef during the period of loosened regulations are showing sensitive reactions. It might become increasingly difficult for Kim Jong Un to continue ruling by the politics of fear.”

On November 15th, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning human rights abuses by North Korea, proposed by the European Union (EU), without a vote. The North Korean human rights resolution, which has been adopted consecutively from 2005 to 2019, will be submitted to the UN General Assembly plenary session this month.

By. Kyung Jin Yoon

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  • ROBERT ANTHONY PHELPS

    Innocent people murdered by dictator which he views his people as slaves. The people don't own their lives. Advocate terrorist attacks on the North Korean Military and all North Korean leadership. North Korean people need to rise-up. If not, they will continue to be slaughtered like cattle.

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