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North Korean Fishing Captain Executed In Public 'For Listening To Foreign Radio'

Simon Catling

| Last updated 

North Korean Fishing Captain Executed In Public 'For Listening To Foreign Radio'

The captain of a North Korean fishing boat has reportedly been executed in public for listening to a banned radio station.

According to the US Government-funded Radio Free Asia, the man in his 40s was put to death after he admitted to listening to broadcasts banned in the dictator state for more than 15 years.

North Korea's incredibly strict rules around what its citizens can and can't do includes a swathe of restrictions based around denying them access to information and news from outside the country's borders.

However, the man, known as Choi, like many sailors will have been able to have picked up foreign broadcasts while out in the water off the coast of North Korea.


He was apparently turned in by by one of his crew members at a fishing base in the port city of Chongjin, where he ultimately confessed to authorities. It's believed that Choi, who was once a radio operator in the military, had started listening to foreign broadcasts while on service. He was levelled with the charge 'subversion against the party'.

A subsequent crackdown at the fishing base also led to party officials and security officers reportedly being dismissed, despite its affiliation with the so-called Bureau 39, a wing of the party which obtains foreign currency for North Korean leaders.

"In mid-October, a captain of a fishing boat from Chongjin was executed by firing squad, on charges of listening to Radio Free Asia regularly over a long period of time," a source told the station.

"The provincial security department defined his crime as an attempt of subversion against the party.


"They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility's fish processing plants," they added.

"They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base's administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea."

A second source claimed that the fisherman who had turned the multiple fleet owner in was seeking "vengeance for Choi's arrogant and disrespectful behaviour so he reported him to the security department."

They also claimed: "It seems that the authorities made an example out of Choi to imprint on the residents that listening to outside radio stations means death."


Despite draconian acts such as this claimed execution, North Korea has apparently not been able to fully quash its people's desire to hear more from the outside world.

Two refugees who escaped from North Korea to settle in the neighbouring South told RFA that North Korean residents often listen to their broadcasts because they are 'curious'.

"We can get a variety of content from CDs and memory sticks, but what North Koreans most want to know is news from the outside," one said.

"Residents can get many outside broadcasts, but they prefer RFA because it can be heard clearly in the Korean language.


"Military radio operators and fishermen are known to listen to RFA a lot because they are more able to listen to outside broadcasts."

Topics: World News

Simon Catling
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