From Voice Of America
A human rights group says it has identified hundreds of locations where North Korea allegedly carried out public executions as a way to intimidate citizens.
The Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group said Tuesday it located the sites based on interviews with 610 North Korean defectors and the use of satellite imagery.
The group did not reveal the exact location of the 323 sites because it said it was concerned that North Korea’s government would tamper with them, but said some of the more common locations were rivers, fields, and hills as well as marketplaces and school grounds.
The human rights group included reports of more than 10 people being executed at the same time and said almost all of the killings documented were by firing squad.
It said crowds, often of hundreds of people, would gather for the executions and said one of the main reasons for the public killings is to instill fear in the public.
One of the authors of the report, Heeseok Shim, said interviews with defectors suggest that public executions in North Korea are becoming less frequent, although it is not clear if more people are being executed in secret.
Media outlets were not able to independently confirm any of the accounts in the report. North Korea did not immediately respond to the report’s findings.
Former members of North Korea’s elite have been among those executed by the government, including leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in 2013.
This month, there have been media reports in South Korea that officials involved in nuclear talks with the United States, which collapsed in February, have been executed. However, the reports cannot be confirmed and some previous South Korea reports of executions in the North have later turned out to be untrue.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump cast doubt on the news reports about the recent executions.
“I don’t know if the reports are correct,” Trump said. “They like to blame Kim Jong Un immediately.”