Eighty North Koreans were executed last week for owning Bibles and watching foreign television, according to a South Korean newspaper.
The executions took place in seven cities on Nov. 3, reported the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. The newspaper cited an unidentified source who is “familiar” with the North’s internal affairs and was recently inside the country.
One North Korean defector group confirmed hearing similar rumors about the executions, according to AFP.
About 10,000 people were gathered by authorities in the port of Wonsan to watch eight people be executed by firing squad in a sports stadium, reported an unidentified eyewitness.
“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards,” one source said.
Most were deemed guilty of watching South Korean television dramas or other unsanctioned foreign films. Some were charged with prostitution. The Daily Mail and the Huffington Post reported that some may have been condemned for owning Bibles.
A Colorado-based preacher has been sending Bibles into North Korea using hydrogen balloons for the last seven years. Pastor Eric Foley and his followers released in 50,000 Bibles into North Korea in 2012. Foley believes there are 100,000 Christians living in North Korea, where it is illegal to own a Bible, the Daily Mail reported.
North Koreans follow Juche ideology, which ordains the worship of the country’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un and posits that country be put before all things.