WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — North Korea reportedly executed up to 80 people this month for watching movies, distributing pornography and even carrying bibles.
South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reports the executions took place in seven cities across North Korea.
In Wonsan, authorities reportedly herded 10,000 people inside Shinpoong Stadium to watch the executions of eight people. The people were tied to stakes, had their heads covered with sacks and executed by machine guns.
“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,” a source told JoongAng Ilbo.
Family members of those executed were reportedly sent to prison camps.
No reason has been given for the mass executions which are the first known public executions under the Kim Jong-un regime.
No executions were carried out in Pyongyang, though, as Kim reportedly is continuing to build luxury facilities.
“It is the beginning of the Kim Jong-un-style of governance, buying the favor of the privileged class of North Korea in Pyongyang,” Ahn Chan-il, analyst at the World North Korea Research Center, told JoongAng Ilbo.
U.S. officials have yet to comment on the reported executions.
Earlier this year, Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korea Policy, said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that “North Korea still persists as one of the thorniest challenges confronting the United States and the international community.”