Two men in North Korea were reportedly tried and sent to a labor camp for the "grave criminal act" of watching a U.S. film, the Telegraph reported Friday. Rare video footage captured the scene of the trial, which showed the men standing before a crowd as the charges leveled against them are called out over loudspeakers. The trial likely took place as long ago as September 2013.
One of the men, who were aged 27 and 30, was "a person immersed in the corrupt ideology of capitalism," a North Korean official read aloud to the crowd, adding that the men had been caught by North Korean "agents in South Korea," according to the Telegraph. The scene was secretly filmed by an attendee and shared with the news outlet. An excerpt from the 12-minute film can be viewed on the Telegraph's website.
Neither accused man spoke during the sentencing, and the two reportedly were sentenced to nine months in a labor camp, although the actual punishment could be longer. Public trials reportedly are not uncommon in North Korea, but footage of them is.
“This video is in itself very rare - very few bits of footage are able to get out of North Korea," Michael Glendenning, director of the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea, told the Telegraph. Glendenning's organization helped smuggle the video footage out of the country.
Kim Jong Un, 32, was made supreme leader of North Korea in December 2011, within two weeks of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. At the time, North Korea called him "the great successor." In a March 2015 profile, Vanity Fair labeled him "The World’s Most Enigmatic and Unpredictable Dictator," and it is widely acknowledge that far more rumors swirl around the leader than established facts.
— CNNgo (@CNNgo) September 3, 2015
"In the world press, Kim is a bloodthirsty madman and buffoon," the Vanity Fair article explained. "It is said that he has had former girlfriends executed." Whether the juicier lore about Kim is true, experts on North Korea have noted a crackdown on foreign media in recent months. Although DVDs, especially those smuggled from South Korea, were once common, officials in the ruling Korean Worker's Party have begun arresting people involved in the trade and enforcing the ban on such media.