Seoul(August 31, 2017): Pyongyang has sentenced four South Korean journalists to death for book reviews that insulted the North, state media said.
The Chosun Ilbo and the Dong-A Ilbo, both of them conservative newspapers, reviewed the new Korean edition of “North Korea Confidential”, a book by two Seoul-based British journalists first published in 2015.
The work details the growing role of the market in daily lives in the North, where South Korean television dramas are circulated on the black market, and fashion items and hairstyles from the South are copied.
For the Korean edition the book has been retitled “Capitalist Republic of Korea”, in a play on the North’s official designation as a democratic republic, and its cover replaces the red star in the North’s coat of arms with a dollar sign.
By reviewing the book, newspapers “committed a heinous crime of seriously insulting the dignity of the DPRK” as part of a “sordid smear campaign”, the North’s Central Court said.
“They have reached the state of slandering and insulting even the inviolable name of our country and its national emblem,” it said.
One journalist from each newspaper, and the presidents of both publications were sentenced to capital punishment, it said.
“The criminals hold no right to appeal and the execution will be carried out any moment and at any place without going through any additional procedures,” it added.
It is not the first time Pyongyang has declared a death sentence on South Korean citizens.