Daily NK sources recently reported that two amateur facial surgeons were executed by North Korean authorities for performing illegal facial surgeries and a woman was murdered by an intoxicated man. Both of the incidents occurred in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. 

Sources in the city report that the two incidents occurred back-to-back and have struck fear in the hearts of many people in the city. 


Sources in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Thursday that two North Koreans who had gone abroad and learned basic plastic surgery and tattooing techniques had established themselves in Pyongyang as technicians performing facial surgeries.

During the course of their work, however, one of their patients died and they came under investigation by the police. 

Facial surgery in this context refers to surgical treatments that include double eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), eyebrow tattoos, as well as treatments for the lips and near the eyes. 

In North Korea, these surgical procedures are generally performed by technicians without medical training – at private homes rather than hospitals. Many patients end up with negative side effects and even die due to unhygienic conditions.

North Korea does ban unlicensed medical practitioners from performing medical procedures. According to Section 200 of North Korea’s Criminal Code, an unlicensed medical practitioner who performs a medical procedure and causes injury or death may be subject to a minimum of one year or a maximum of five years in a forced labor camp.  

The amateur surgeons in question were sentenced to a punishment far in excess of the maximum five-year labor camp sentence stated in the penal code, Daily NK sources reported. 

“The two were executed by firing squad on a hill near the Kimchongtae Electric Locomotive Works (Pyongyang),” one of the sources said. “Rumors of their execution have already spread through the jangmadang [local markets].”

The authorities may have been trying to make examples of them given that there have been very few public executions recently, the source added.


Several days after the public execution of the amateur surgeons, there was a homicide in the surrounding area, Daily NK sources reported. 

“Earlier this month, there was a gruesome murder in Hyongjesan district,” one of the sources said. “A middle-aged woman who works as a merchant at a local market was murdered by a drunkard.” 

According to the sources, the woman was selling food at the market with her 10-year-old child on Nov. 6 when she got into an argument with a drunk customer who refused to pay.

During the course of their argument, the drunk customer gagged the child and brutally murdered the woman. The woman’s body was found in the late afternoon, but the child survived, the sources said. 

Daily NK was unable to confirm whether the perpetrator was caught by the police. 

“There is a lot of fear and suspicion in Pyongyang right now,” one of the sources said. “Because the economy has gotten so bad, the number of crimes has risen, with more murders and public executions, too, which adds to the violent atmosphere.”

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.