Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is appalled by North Korea’s execution of a fishing fleet captain for listening to broadcasts by Radio Free Asia (RFA) and other free-media outlets while at sea.
“It is abhorrent that this man paid with his life merely for trying to access objective news and information,” USAGM CEO Michael Pack said.
The captain confessed to having listened to RFA for more than 15 years after he was turned in by a resentful crew member at their base in the northeastern port city of Chongjin, the network reported.
The execution was by firing squad and took place in October in front of 100 boat captains and fishery executives.
“Our agency’s journalists are, without a doubt, heroes, for they accept the ultimate risks of violence and intimidation in order to advance freedom of thought for millions,” CEO Pack said. “We must also note that our listeners, too often, unfortunately, face the same risks. As such, tremendous courage is exhibited by those who report the truth as well as by those who seek it.”
In June, North Korean authorities sent a signal corpsman to one of the totalitarian regime’s notorious political prison camps for tuning into RFA at work. In November 2018, a signaler in the regime’s elite Supreme Guard Command was purged for listening to banned broadcasts, and his whole command was punished.
Two refugees who escaped from North Korea and resettled in the South told RFA that the network’s programming is widely consumed by ordinary North Koreans.
RFA is funded through an annual grant from USAGM. The network broadcasts six hours of Korean-language programming daily into North Korea using shortwave radio transmitters located about 1,900 miles away in the Northern Mariana Islands and medium wave transmitters located in South Korea.
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