SEOUL, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Public executions staged in North Korea have increased in 2016 and a state surveillance organization founded under Kim Jong Un is enforcing tough measures to keep the population under control.
A source on North Korea who spoke to Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity said the number of people publicly executed now totals 60.
That tally includes any executions that have taken place in early August.
“That level is twice the average number of executions  that took place annually” under Kim Jong Il, the source said.
The death penalty is being meted out to the general population in the wake of mass mobilization movements that require ordinary North Koreans to volunteer free labor to state infrastructure projects.
“As grievances [against the movements] mounted, [the state] is using public executions as a means of controlling the population,” the source said.
The latest targets of the draconian measures include the families of individuals who defected from North Korea, and brokers who enable money transfers from defectors to their kin in the North, according to the source.
North Korean authorities arrested dozens of such families and their brokers in February on charges of “espionage,” and in April in the border city of Hyesan about 10 brokers were executed.
In northern Yanggang Province, North Koreans who were allegedly viewing South Korean films and television shows were executed by gun. About 10 people in two different cities were executed for drug use, the source said.
The North Korean organization founded in 2014 and known as “3-12 Operations,” or March 12 Operations, is responsible for the arrests, said another source.
A South Korean government official separately confirmed to News 1 that 60 in total have been publicly executed this year.
Choe Seong-ryong, who heads a South Korean organization for people whose family members were kidnapped to the North, said six North Koreans responsible for overseeing state restaurant operations overseas were executed after the defection of 12 North Korean waitresses and their manager in April.
Nearly 200 officials and family members were forced to watch their public executions, Choe said.