Book Reviewers Sentenced to Death

For all the concerns about recent threats to freedom of speech in the U.S. we can be thankful that being killed for writing a book review is not one of those concerns. Unfortunately, journalists and publishers in North Korea were just given a death sentence for their role in a book review; that is certainly one way to shut people up.


North Korea sentences South Korean reporters to death over review of book about country

SEOUL (Reuters) – A North Korean court sentenced two South Korean journalists and their publishers to death for “seriously insulting the dignity” of the country by reviewing and interviewing the British authors of a book about life in the North, its state media said…

The book in English titled “North Korea Confidential” was authored by James Pearson, a Seoul-based correspondent for Reuters, and Daniel Tudor, former correspondent in South Korea for the Economist magazine.

The book, based on interviews with North Korean defectors, diplomats and traders, depicts a growing market economy where ordinary North Koreans enjoy access to South Korea music and TV dramas, fashion and smuggled Chinese and American films…

A spokesman for the North’s Central Court said in a statement carried by the country’s official KCNA news agency that the book “viciously slandered the reality of the DPRK”, the initials for North Korea’s official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The book painted life in the country as increasingly capitalistic where money can buy power and influence, the spokesman said.

The South Korean journalists who reviewed the book “committed a hideous crime of seriously insulting the dignity of the DPRK with the use of dishonest contents” carried by “North Korea Confidential”, the court spokesman said.

The Central Court has ordered the execution of the journalists, Son Hyo-rim of the Dong-A Ilbo and Yang Ji-ho of the Chosun Ilbo, and the publishers of the newspapers. It also demanded the South Korean government investigate their crimes and punish them, the state media said.  The court statement did not make any mention of punishment for the book’s authors.