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Revealed, North Korea’s 20 crimes punishable by execution: Don’t dare ‘disrupt preparations for war’ or commit an ‘extraordinarily grave act of delinquency’

  • More than 20 crimes including theft are punishable by death in North Korea
  • Crimes split into two categories – mandatory and discretionary execution
  • List emerged in wake of brutal anti-aircraft gun execution of the country’s defence minister for falling asleep during a meeting
  • Killed for falling asleep during meetings and answering back to Jong-Un
Selling jewels on the black market, disrupting preparations for war and the ‘extraordinarily grave act of delinquency’ are among a long list of crimes punishable by death in North Korea.

Under dictator Kim Jong-Un’s oppressive rule, the country’s residents can be executed for more than 20 different crimes, many of them ambiguous, without a fair trial.

The practice of guilt by association is also used by the government to arrest not only those considered ‘enemies of the state’, but up to three generations of their families.

The list has emerged in the wake of the brutal murder of the country’s defence minister for falling asleep during military meetings and answering back to Kim.

Hyon Yong-Chol, 66, who was named head of North Korea’s military in 2012, was reported to have been executed in front of hundreds of bloodthirsty officials at a military camp in the capital Pyongyang on April 30.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency told politicians that Hyon was killed by an anti-aircraft gun at Kang Kon Military Academy – a method cited in various unconfirmed reports as being reserved for senior officials who the leadership wishes to make examples of.

Thousands of executions have been carried out in North Korea since the 1950s, with the largest numbers in the 1990s and 2000s, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

The organisation, which represents more than 150 human rights across five continents, produced the list of crimes in a report after meeting with North Korean witnesses.
1A11B77A00000578-3079950-image-a-68_1431537170859Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek (pictured with his hands tied) and allegedly poisoned his aunt

Michelle Kissenkoetter, director of the FIDH Asia desk, told MailOnline: ‘Many of the crimes that are punishable by death are very ambiguous.

‘It’s not very clear what can have you committed to execution. That lack of clarity is extremely concerning.

‘The judicial system in North Korea is not transparent. Even if you are accused of a crime you are not given a fair trial.’

Sokeel Park, director of research and strategy at Liberty in North Korea, an international NGO that works with North Korean defectors, said: ‘There can be a huge divide between what is written in law and what happens in practice in North Korea.

‘In fact it seems the law is applied in a more arbitrary and corrupt way in North Korea than any other country in the world.

‘Ambiguity and arbitrariness is the rule, not the exception in North Korea, and particularly when it comes to power plays within the ruling elite, anything goes.’

The crimes punishable by death are split into two categories. At least nine are guaranteed to result in execution, including kidnapping, seizing state property and theft of private property.

The punishment for making counterfeit money, illicitly selling the state’s resources and escaping from prison are discretionary.

In 2007, a law was passed allowing an execution if the authorities believe the crime is ‘extremely serious’.

Ms Kissenkoetter added: ‘For most North Korean people we have spoken to, as long as you toe the party line, don’t ask any questions and you keep your head down, you should be fine.

‘However, in North Korea a simple accusation from a family member or someone you know can have you charged with a crime.

‘FIDH is completely against the death penalty in any situation. We call on North Korea to end the death penalty.’

Of the killing of North Korea’s defence minister – just the latest in a long line of officials and aides to fall victim to the country’s trigger-happy leader – she added: ‘This is not only shocking and terrible but it’s also a violation of international law.’

Hyon is understood to have been arrested late last month and executed three days later without legal proceedings.

Since Kim Jong-Un rose to power in 2011, he has purged more than 70 officials, according to Yonhap news agency.

While he usually opts for firing squads using machine guns, there have been reports of officials being killed using mortar rounds at close range.

It was initially reported he had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, eaten alive by a pack of starving dogs, although it’s now believed he was executed by a firing squad.


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