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S. Korean Lawmaker Shows Alleged North Korean Execution Footage

  • Kurt Achin

A South Korean lawmaker has shown a video allegedly depicting public executions taking place in North Korea. Human rights groups say the South Korean government is not giving the video the recognition it deserves, but officials are defending their policies toward Pyongyang.

In a meeting room at South Korea's National Assembly, viewers watched a nightmarish scenario unfold on video.

A distant, grainy, but nonetheless visible image shows a man being tied to a post after a brief trial. The voice of a military official can be heard ordering the men to take aim and fire.

Conservative lawmaker Kim Moon-soo played the videotape of the execution, which a human rights group in Seoul says was secretly filmed in North Korea.

The video shows three separate executions and was played on Japanese television last week. So far, its authenticity has not been confirmed.

Park Kwang-Il is a North Korean defector who served as a consultant to the Japanese broadcaster about details in the video. He says he believes it was not staged.

Mr. Park says he saw many public executions in North Korea. He admits that some of those executed might have been actual criminals, but says most public executions are meant to discourage any political dissent.

Mr. Park expressed outrage that the Korean Broadcasting System, the national television network, chose not to air the footage when it was offered to network executives.

He accuses South Korean officials of hiding behind the excuse that the video has not been confirmed.

South Korea's government pursues a policy of engagement with North Korea, under which it avoids provocative actions and rhetoric whenever possible.

Huh Gang-Il, from South Korea's Foreign Ministry, was the only official from the government at Friday's discussion. He defended Seoul's approach toward the North.

Mr. Huh says attempts by previous governments to confront North Korea head on about human rights abuses have backfired because Pyongyang treated it as an attack, and cut off contact with the South. He says because the inter-Korean relationship is so complex, Seoul can accomplish more good through quiet cooperation than by confrontation on the world stage.

The government is expected to stick with that approach next month, when it is widely expected to abstain from voting on a U.N. resolution calling for North Korea to improve its human-rights situation.

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