Two Shot over Prostitution as Article 60 Enforced

Two men, one in his 60s and the other a
student in his 20s, have been publicly executed in Yangkang Province for crimes relating to prostitution, as the North Korean authorities seek to enforce amendments made to the nation’s criminal code in January.

An inside source in
the region told Daily NK on the 18th, “Since they amended the criminal code at
the start of this year, a number of people have been executed by firing squad
in Hyesan.

“They are being killed as examples to
others. In the spring, a man in his 60s and another in his 20s were publicly shot
for facilitating prostitution. Previously the two might have been sent to a
reeducation facility or something of that ilk, but punishments are much harsher

According to the source, a couple in their
60s began by renting space near Hyesan Station to travelers waiting for the departure of one of North
Korea’s highly erratic trains. With money earned from this activity, they
started to run the lodging business on a more formal basis.

However, “Customers would
ask the couple about prostitutes, so in the end they started doing that,” the
source explained. “The number of men asking them for prostitutes rose, so they started to pay the university student, who was struggling with the cost of his own lodgings, to
find more women.”

The cost of prostitutes in Hyesan depends
upon the age group of the woman in question. Women aged up to 25 can earn
approximately 100RMB per event, while single women aged 25 or more may earn
approximately 70RMB and married women approximately 50RMB. Both the man and the
woman must pay 10RMB each to rent the room. According to the source, “This is
if you rent the room for two or three hours. The cost is doubled if it is
rented for the whole night.”

The public execution of the two men was
conducted at Yeonbong Airfield on the outskirts of the city. According to the
source, a provincial security official began by telling the audience, “We will not accept any crime, no matter how trivial,” before announcing, “Let this
execution be a warning to anyone who would aim to undermine or bring down our
socialist fatherland from the inside.”

Some of those compelled to watch the deaths
were reportedly critical of the decision to execute the men. The older of the
two was seeking to avoid becoming a burden on his family in his old age, viewers alleged, while the student would “have just studied if he could have gotten
food and such from his university.”

Others, however, were content at the
outcome. “Young women, especially the wives of Party officials, said that
people who do that kind of thing must be punished, and that ‘those who did
prostitution should also be punished’,” the source recalled. “But then, that’s
because most of the people who get prostitutes are cadres or people with money.”

Prostitution was one of five crimes added
to Article 60 of the DPRK Criminal Code at the start of this year. Article 60
pertains to seditious acts. The five are:
phone contact with foreigners;
viewing South Korean dramas or DVDs and listening to [foreign]
radio broadcasts;
using, trafficking, or dealing in drugs; human
and sex trafficking; and
aiding and abetting defectors and leaking state secrets.

The crimes cannot be classified as
seditious by any reasonable definition of the term. Rather, they are a reflection of the most serious problems facing the North Korean regime today.

Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to