A view of Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, in 2011. / Image: Jen Morgan, Flickr, Creative Commons

A North Korean prosecutor arrested in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, on charges of manufacturing and selling drugs as well as robbery, was recently put on public trial in the city, Daily NK has learned.

“The prosecutor had been the leader of a gang of robbers by the Songchon River embankment in Hamhung’s Songchongang District, and was found guilty of illegal acts involving robberies and illicit drugs,” a South Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK on Tuesday. “His public trial was held on May 5.”

The area by the Songchon River embankment in the Songchongang District and the area beneath the Yongdae Bridge are typically used for public trials and executions in the city. 

The accused, a man known by his family name “Hyon,” is in his early 50s. At least two years ago, he reportedly formed a gang with five civilians who were “physically strong” and “relatively wealthy” and had been involved in various criminal acts up until his recent arrest. 

According to the source, investigators discovered that Hyon and his associates had gone out to dark corners of the city during the night and threatened innocent people with knives to steal their money and other items. Investigators also discovered that Hyon had engaged in the manufacture and sale of illicit drugs. 

Hyon reportedly bribed other prosecutors and officials with money to have them turn a blind eye to the robberies and drug-related crimes committed by his associates. 

The public trial was attended by workers from factories and other businesses in the province, local inminban leaders, as well as ordinary civilians. Hyon, his wife, and his children were promptly transferred to a prison camp for political prisoners, the source added. 

Hyon’s five associates were immediately shackled and dragged off after receiving heavy sentences at the public trial. 


Hyon was categorized as a political prisoner and sentenced to life imprisonment because of the nature of his crimes, the source told Daily NK. 

Specifically, Hyon was found guilty of “idolizing” particular government officials and for creating his own organization. Both of these acts were considered by the court to be violations of the North Korean communist party’s “Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System.” 

Article 6 of the Ten Principles says that “idolization of individual officials, including adulation, flattery and other unprincipled behavior” is forbidden, while “the phenomenon of gift exchanges between officials must be eradicated.” 

Article 6 also states that “Any anti-Party ideological elements that might undermine the unity of the Party, including sectarianism, regionalism and family-centered individualism must be opposed and strongly fought against,” and that “not even the most trivial expression of these elements must be overlooked; they must all be thoroughly eradicated.”

Locals in the city have reportedly expressed concern over the crimes committed by Hyon and his associates. They have blamed the country’s economic difficulties and the shift of focus in society “from people to money.” Money, they complained, is used to buy one’s way into university and get government jobs. 

“People had heard about [the prosecutor’s] crimes even before the trial was held,” the source told Daily NK. “People were shocked that a member of the provincial prosecutor’s office could be the ringleader of a criminal organization and some even blamed the party’s policies [concerning the selection] of officials.”

*Translated by Violet Kim

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.