An Official Executed for Smuggling Slogan Trees, Offense “Extravagant Living”

Daily NK
Kim Song A

Last month, Oh Moon Hyuk, a North Korean executive leader making foreign currency in North Hamkyung who had secretly smuggled slogan trees into China was executed, reported Good friends, a North Korea support organization. The organization also informed that part of Oh’s offense was for leading an ‘extravagant lifestyle.’

Regarding the reason behind the public execution, Good Friends informed that Oh Moon Hyuk had “built a private villa with beautiful scenery in Yeonsan, North Hamkyung, drove a Mercedes Benz saying it was from the kindness of the general, enjoyed the pleasure of women at his villa every day and ensured that no security or safety agents ventured near his villa.”

“He cut down the tress ignoring the directions of authorities who ordered for the protection of the forests and sold the wood to China. He was caught after inspections were made and was sentenced to capital punishment” informed the organization.

On the 6th, a report was made by Yonhap news which gave an account of Oh Moon Hyuk’s public execution. He was reported as a merchant from Chosung Reungrah 888 Trading Company in North Hamkyung who had illegally traded 20,000㎥ worth of wood to China.

North Korean authorities regard the cutting down of slogan trees and trade by merchants as an extremely serious case and ensured that important elites, foreign merchants and persons in charge, all witnessed the execution, informed the report.

On the other hand, since the breakdown of the distribution system in the mid-90s, there have been an increase in the number of merchants trading between North Korea and China, and consequently a steady increase in the number of the newly-rich.

These people lead extravagant lifestyles, indulge in lavish goods and purchase expensive cars which undoubtedly cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. More recently, there are reports that authority officials and tradesmen are increasingly hiring housemaids in their homes.

North Korea executes “slogan tree” smuggler: report
(Hat Tip DPRK Studies)

North Korea has publicly executed a trade official for chopping down and smuggling cherished “slogan trees” on which founding leader Kim Il-Sung reputedly carved anti-Japanese messages, a report said Sunday.

Senior local timber trader Oh Mun-Hyok was shot dead and four accomplices sentenced to life imprisonment on July 23, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

Local government and trade officials were forced to watch Oh’s public execution at Yonsa in the northern province of North Hamkyong, it said.

The punishment was harsh because the timber smuggled to China included “slogan trees” on which Kim Il-Sung and his followers had allegedly carved messages against Japan’s colonial rule in 1920s or 1930s, it said.

Kim Il-Sung died in 1994 and his son Kim Jong-Il has since ruled the isolated state.

Pyongyang has protected such trees to highlight the Kim family’s track record of fighting for independence, building a personality cult around them.

Slogans included “General Kim Il-Sung is the nation’s sun!,” “Long live Kim Jong-Suk (Kim Il-Sung’s wife), an anti-Japanese woman commander!” or “Down with Japan’s imperialism” according to North Korean defectors.

Pyongyang media claim more than 1,000 such slogan-inscribed trees still exist across the country, and often report some soldiers or other people had died while trying to save the trees from a brush fire.

But critics in the South say it is a sheer fabrication.

Yonhap said the North’s leader had been outraged by the timber smuggling case involving the cherished trees.

“Some loyalists would sacrifice their lives in the fire to save the slogan trees. Who dares to chop down and trade the slogan trees for money?,” Kim Jong-Il was quoted by an unnamed source as saying, according to Yonhap.

Yonhap also said the North Korean authorities had also recently executed three trade officials for embezzling public funds in southeastern Kangwon province.


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