By BosNewsLife Asia Service with additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
SEOUL/PYONGYANG (BosNewsLife)– The ex-girlfriend of North Korea’s autocratic leader Kim Jong-un and nearly a dozen others have reportedly been executed after some of those detained were found to have Bibles in their possession.
Hyon Song Wol, who is a famed singer in North Korea, and 11 fellow performers were shot dead by a firing squad on August 20 for “violating pornography laws,” according to a report by South Korea’s leading Chosun Ilbo newspaper, monitored by BosNewsLife Friday, August 30.
The possession of Bibles, viewed as pornography by Communist leaders, as well as devoted Christian worship is strictly forbidden in North Korea.
At least 100,000 Christians are believed trapped in the country’s notorious prison camps, known for torture, forced labor and executions. Most are said to have been detained for refusing to worship North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung’s cult.
Besides having Bibles, the 12 members of the Unhasu Orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band executed last week were accused of “videotaping themselves having sex” and selling copies of the tape to North Korean fans and in China, Chosun Ilbo cited key sources as saying.
“They were executed [three days after their August 17 detention] with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on,” a well-informed Chinese source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
After being forced to watch the executions family members, including children, were apparently sentenced to labor camps.
Hyon was believed to have married a North Korean military officer after Kim’s dictatorial father forced their breakup a decade ago. Yet the North Korean woman continued to see the Pyongyang heir apparent even after her marriage, Chosun Ilbo claimed.
North Korean leader Kim, 30, is believed to have married Hyon’s fellow band member, Ri Sol Ju, in the past year.
Observers said Ri was seen with Kim at cultural events in the capital Pyongyang over a year ago, including at a female band concert in July 2012 that featured Western music, mini-skirted violinists and a parade of knock-off Disney characters.
The gala raised hope that Kim would relax longstanding constraints on artistic expression and social behavior imposed by his father and grandfather since North Korea’s emergence as a separate state after World War II, according to analysts.
Yet, last week’s executions are seen as “a death blow to expectations that Kim would oversee a transition of his isolated and tyrannized people into a more open era,” commented Chosun Ilbo.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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