Archive for January 8th, 2011

Themed Set: 2010

Add comment January 8th, 2011 Headsman

At 1,100-odd posts as of this writing, we’ve chronicled a fair few historical executions in different lands and places since our launch.

But whatever our volume, the world’s [real] headsmen do more efficient work than its antiquarians.

Executions in the contemporary world have averaged several per day over recent years (conservatively, 714 total in 2009; 2,390 in 2008), and those are just the documented ones: observers have long believed the true tally to be several times any given year’s official count.

North Korea, for instance, is notoriously opaque on the point, but is believed to carry out at least hundreds per year; figures for China, the perennial global leader, are derived from counting those officially announced, but many occur that are not publicized and the real number is considered a state secret. And that’s leaving aside the annual harvest of semi-official, extrajudicial stuff.

The bottom line is that with each passing day’s Executed Today post, the shelves of tales yet untold only groan with still greater weight. It’s bound to bury us, sooner or later.

Before it does, we offer this next week a nod to the death penalty in the here and now … or at least, last year: seven different trips to seven countries’ scaffolds (or modern-day simulacra thereof), an insufficient but perhaps not unrepresentative look at the the modern executioner — inexorably at work day by day, faster than you read these words.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Themed Sets

2010: Jeong Dae-Sung and Lee Ok-Geum, for escaping North Korea

Add comment January 8th, 2011 Headsman

On an uncertain date in early to mid-January 2010, North Korea put to death husband and wife Jeong Dae-sung and Lee Ok-Geum for attempting to defect, along with family friend Song Gwang Cheol for assisting them.

Early that month, the People’s Republic announced the “50-day battle” against unreliable elements … like defectors.

The “battle’s” battle plan included “shooting everybody connected to South Chosun [i.e., South Korea] no matter what they did. This case seems to be a model part of that battle.”

Bad timing for Jeong and family: they escaped North Korea to China in July 2009, along with two young children and Jeong’s 63-year-old mother. Their intent was to make it to Mongolia, and there catch a flight to Seoul.

Instead, they were caught by Chinese authorities and repatriated,* and interrogated — we expect not too gently — into giving up their neighbor Song Gwang Cheol.

After the executions, surviving members of both families were hauled away to a prison camp and to internal exile.

* North Koreans in China are in a pretty unenviable position. Beijing considers them economic migrants, not refugees, and therefore repatriates them to dreadful fates in their homeland; and yet, because of the militarized border between the Koreas, anyone wanting to defect or escape basically has to go to China, and then through China — either on to Southeast Asia, or across the Gobi to Mongolia. (Mongolia “repatriates” illegal Korean migrants back to South Korea.)

This Congressional Research Service report (pdf) makes depressing reading on the subject.

Part of the Themed Set: 2010.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Korea,North Korea,Power,Shot,Treason,Uncertain Dates

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