North Korea has allegedly executed 80 people for watching banned South Korean soap operas, the South China Morning Post reports.
The executions were allegedly carried out on 3 November in seven cities, with a sports stadium in Wonsan hosting a crowd of 10,000 as a firing squad dispatched eight of the victims, according to South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.
The JoongAng Ilbo report was based on the testimony of "a single, unidentified source", who'd "recently returned from the country".
The website North Korea Intellectual Solidarity (NKIS) - run by North Korean defectors - said its sources on the ground had "reported several months ago on plans for a wave of public executions".
An NKIS spokesperson said: "The regime is obviously afraid of potential changes in people’s mindsets and is pre-emptively trying to scare people off."
However, the Seoul-based Daily NK - also run by North Korean defectors, and boasting "a wide network of sources" – said it had "no information" on the executions.
Back in August, it was breathlessly reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had ordered the execution of his former girlfriend, singer Hyon Song-wol, along with 11 fellow musicians. They were accused of "videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos" and having "Bibles in their possession".
The claim was made to South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo by a Chinese source. The international press had a field day on the story, despite there being no solid corroborating evidence for what NBC described as a "bizarre" story. ®
The South China Morning Post describes the offence of watching foreign telly, smuggled into North Korea on DVDs, flash drives or mp3 players, as "serious". Since the material apparently includes US show Desperate Housewives, we're inclined to agree.