2011: Two leaflet-readers

South Korean activists have in recent years taken to balloon-lifting propaganda leaflets over the DMZ into North Korea — including on the occasion of the recent leadership succession.

North Korea is not amused by this tactic and has pressured — and even militarily threatened — South Korea to clamp down on it. But that’s nothing next to the clampdown within North Korea.

On this date in 2011, according to an activist whose father is a North Korea abductee, two were publicly shot for the crime of handling these leaflets.

An army officer who pocketed dollar bills enclosed with the leaflets was shot along with a 45-year-old woman who concealed one of the flyers, said Choi Sung-Yong.

He said the executions were carried out on January 3 at Sariwon, 45 kilometres (27 miles) south of Pyongyang, in front of 500 spectators following a special ideological session on the leaflets.

Choi, citing a source in Sariwon, told AFP that six members of the victims’ families had been sent to a camp for political prisoners.

“North Korea apparently carried out the executions to teach a lesson to its people,” Choi said.

He said the regime appeared to have tightened ideological control as it grooms the youngest son of leader Kim Jong-Il as eventual successor to his father.

Those dollar bills that cost the army officer his life are, very sadly, enclosed with some leaflets to induce North Koreans to pick them up despite the risk to life and limb.

On this day..

Daily Double: The Path to Power in Pyongyang

With the death a few weeks ago of North Korea dictator Kim Jong-il, his son Kim Jong-un “inherits great comrade Kim Jong-il’s ideology, leadership, character, virtues, grit and courage” and, of course, power.

While North Korea is notoriously opaque when it comes to reading the political tea leaves, it’s at least arguable that Kim Jong-un’s path to power has been set up over the preceding months by a flurry of executions.

For our next two posts, we note two whose politics were wrong enough to die this time last year.

On this day..