N Korea sentences journalists to death for positive reviews

04-Sep-2017 Intellasia | The Australian | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Two South Korean journalists and their publishers have been sentenced to death in absentia over their positive reviews of a translation of an internationally praised book on North Korea.

“The criminals have no right to appeal, and the execution will be carried out any moment and at any place without going through any additional procedures,” North Korea’s Central Court said on Thursday.

“We will track down to the end those who masterminded and manipulated hideous provocations of slandering and insulting the dignity of North Korea and mete out death to them.”

Following the assassination in Kuala Lumpur of despot Kim Jong-un’s brother Kim Jong-nam, such threats will be treated with extreme gravity, especially in South Korea where agents of the North are known to operate.

(The Australian)

The court handed down the sentences on Dong-A Ilbo journalist Son Hyo-rim and his publisher Kim Jae-ho, and Chosun Ilbo’s Yang Ji-ho and publisher Pang Sang-hun. It said it would “cut off their dirty windpipes”.

It did not make any such pronouncements on the British authors of North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors.

Published in 2015, the book was written by James Pearson, a Seoul correspondent for Reuters, and Daniel Tudor, a former correspondent for The Economist. The magazine made the book, which painted a nuanced portrait of a country undergoing partial modernisation, one of its books of the year.

The North Korean court said it was “a propaganda book” based on “the ludicrous statements of riffraff including rubbish defectors,” and contained “sophistries which slandered atrociously, distorted and fabricated the North Korean reality”.

The book reveals the growing influence of money in the North; the Korean language edition’s cover replaced the red star with the US dollar and it was retitled Capitalist Republic of Korea.

The British authors compared North Korea’s attitude to capitalism with Victorian Britain’s to sex: “While everybody does it, few publicly admit to its existence.”.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry “strongly condemned” the verdict and the court’s “preposterous threats”.

“The menace to normal reporting activities of journalists is a serious threat to freedom of the press and an act of intervening in domestic affairs. We gravely warn North Korea to stop immediately the threats to our people,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile American former basketball star Dennis Rodman told DuJour magazine that his friend Kim was making the North more modern.

“It is really becoming a 24th century country now. It’s like they took down the Flintstone Age and put in the Jetsons. Out with the old, in with the new,” Rodman said.

He said the country was developing a style “all of its own”.

When visiting, he stayed in a nice hotel. “I stay in the Jimmy Carter suite. It’s all marble.”




Category: Korea

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