fishing boat captain was reportedly executed by North Korean officials in mid-October after admitting that he secretly listened to radio broadcasts from banned American media outlet Radio Free Asia, the Daily Caller reports.
The captain, identified by his last name, Choi, confessed to listening to the outlet for more than 15 years, North Korean authorities told Radio Free Asia in a statement on December 16.
RFA, partially funded by a yearly grant from the United States Agency for Global Media, aims to “provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press.” The outlet broadcasts Korean-language programming into North Korea over radio transmitters located in South Korea and the Northern Mariana Islands.
After Choi’s confession, he was reportedly turned in to the provincial security department by a crewman at his base in the port city of Chongjin.
“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 law enforcement official from North Hamgyong province said. “During an investigation by the provincial security department, Captain Choi confessed to listening to RFA broadcasts since the age of 24, when he was serving in the military as a radio operator.”
The official noted that Choi was charged with subversion against the ruling Korean Workers Party.
“They publicly shot him at the base in front of 100 other captains and managers of the facility’s fish processing plants,” the official continued. “They also dismissed or discharged party officials, the base’s administration and the security officers who allowed Choi to work at sea.”
It is widely known that North Korea has strict censorship laws regulating foreign media outlets, but a new law titled the “Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Law” could lead to more severe penalties for North Korean citizens that are caught consuming foreign media, according to the Daily Caller.