North Korea executes people for drugs, says South Korea

North Korea executes people for drugs, says South Korea

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said on Thursday that North Korea executes people for drugs, sharing South Korean media, and religious activities as it stifles its citizens' human rights and freedom.

The ministry said that North Korean citizens' right to life appears to be seriously threatened.

Executions are widely carried out for acts that do not justify the death penalty, including drug crimes, distribution of South Korean videos, and religious and superstitious activities. Reuters could not independently verify the South Korean government's findings, but they were in line with UN investigations and reports from non-governmental organisations.

North Korea has rejected criticism of its rights conditions as part of a plot to overthrow its rulers.

The report gave details of rampant state-led rights abuses in communities, prison camps and elsewhere, including public executions, torture and arbitrary arrests.

The ministry said that deaths and torture were regularly carried out in detention facilities, and some people were summarily executed after being caught trying to cross the border.

The report came as South Korea tried to highlight its neighbour's failure to improve living conditions while trying to boost its nuclear and missile arsenals.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the report should better inform the international community of the North's gruesome abuses, saying that North Korea deserved not a single penny of economic aid while it pursues its nuclear ambitions.

The conservative Yoon approach is a departure from that of his liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in who faced criticism for his less outspoken position on the North's rights as he sought to improve ties and build rapport with his leader, Kim Jong Un.

The Unification Ministry is required by law to make an annual assessment of the North's rights situation.

Nearly 34,000 North Koreans have settled in South Korea, but the number of defectors has fallen because of tighter border security.

North Korean arrivals hit a new all-time low of just 63 in 2021, due to COVID 19 shutdowns, before edging up to 67 in 2022, ministry data showed.