Witnessing a public execution in North Korea

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As a young child in the capital of North Korea, Sungju Lee lived a pampered life. But by the time he was a teenager, he was starving and fighting for survival in a street gang. It was one of many twists of fate on a journey that has led him to postgraduate studies at a British university.

In the early 1990s, Sungju Lee was living comfortably with his parents in a three-bedroom apartment in Pyongyang. Although Sungju did not know it at the time, his own father, who had been working as a bodyguard, had fallen out of favor with the regime.

His family moved into a tiny, unheated house in the north-western town of Gyeong-seong.

One morning his teachers marched the children to an outside arena where they were told to sit and watch. Three police officers with guns appeared and a man and woman were led out and tied to wooden poles. The crowd was told the man had been caught stealing and the woman had tried to escape into China. They had both been convicted of high treason, and this was a public execution.

“Each of the police officers shot three bullets for each person. Bang, bang, bang,” Sungju says. “Blood came out. There was a hole in their forehead, and at the back of their head there was nothing left.”

[Read more about Sungju Lee]

This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

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