Rights group identifies nearly 300 execution sites in North Korea

A human rights group in South Korea has assembled a digital map of all known execution sites in North Korea, the culmination of hundreds of interviews conducted with defectors who fled the Kim Jong Un regime.


Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group unveiled a “map of North Korean human rights abuses,” after two years of interviews with 375 defectors who had resettled in the South, Voice of America reported Thursday.

Using testimonies from North Koreans, the group was able to map out 290 such locations across the relatively isolated country, where executions most commonly take place by firing squad for even seemingly benign crimes like distributing South Korean media.
The group’s research also indicates there are 47 known mass graves or incinerators for the victims’ bodies.

The cremators and graves, however, are typically located away from residential areas, and near detention facilities and prison camps, where those in held in custody are susceptible to disease.

Most of the execution sites identified in the research are located in North Hamgyong Province, data that reflects the pool of interviewees. About 60 percent of the defectors surveyed are from the province, according to the report.

The overwhelming majority of defectors interviewed, or 80 percent, said they seek answers and responded that it is necessary to exhume the bodies of victims.

They also seek justice, including bringing to trial state actors responsible for the massacres, with 95 percent of respondents saying the perpetrators should be held responsible for human rights violations.

By Elizabeth Shim