Cell Phones in the Hermit Kingdom

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A whole slate of cell phone-related stories on the wires today: New Jersey is considering legislation making it illegal to text message while driving, and hopes to "give police more power to target drivers using a hand-held cell phone." Maine and Oregon are debating measures to ban under-18s from using phones or other "mobile communication devices when driving."

As one might imagine, the situation in North Korea is, err, rather more serious. According to the Associated Press, the hermit kingdom "has increased its public executions against cell phone users" in recent months, attempting to limit the flow of information from internal dissidents. As is the case with most stories related to Pyongyang, it is scant on details:

The phenomenon of executions of those who "circulate South Korean leaflets and sell videos and use cell phones are on the rise," the South's government-affiliated Korea Institute for National Unification think tank said in a white paper on the North's human rights conditions. No exact figures were given.

In 2005, dissidents in Yuson filmed this footage of a public execution:

If you missed it, be sure to watch CNN's bone-chilling documentary "Undercover in the Secret State," which details, among other things, how dissident networks use smuggled cell phones to relay news to websites like this. Parts one, two and three, courtesy of YouTube.

NEXT: The United States Is Full, Chapter MCXVII

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  1. I kinda want to execute those assholes who use Nextel Phones in restaurants… and I’m against the death penalty.

  2. I want the same for the marketing trolls who came up with “Where you at?” for their cell phone’s tag line. I’d settle for a one-way trip for them to Pyongyang. Let platform-shoe boy use his evil powers for good for once.

    I’m no grammar nazi, but that single utterance bugs the shit out of me to no end. It really must be purged from the language, no matter the cost.

  3. Next step: all fast food drive in windows will have an attendant to put the food in the trunk, which may not be consumed until the car is parked in a safe place, such as your home driveway. After that, no teenage boy will be allowed to drive with a hot teenage girl in the car because she may distract him. (H&R posters – due to their experience in such matters – will be invited to join the panel to examine photos to determine if, in fact, the girl qualifies as “hot.”

  4. creech,

    So, uhh… I guess road head is out of the question?

  5. The main thing I was thinking, watching that video, is that if almost anyone there knew that person had a camera in their bag and was filming it, they’d be the next one on that post…

  6. the hermit kingdom “has increased its public executions against cell phone users” in recent months

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

    So, uhh… I guess road head is out of the question?
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  7. Oh yes, people with custom ring tones definitely go to the special level of hell.

  8. All i can say is, if you’re going to use a Nextel phone, stay away from people playing a softball game. You don’t want to distract and annoy people who are standing around a large supply of metal bats.

  9. Using a cell phone is a capital offense in North Korea? …really? Jesus F’ing H. Christ.

  10. Weirdest circumstance I saw someone use a cell phone: while she was bowling.

    Weirdest one side of a conversation I overheard was in Barnes & Noble: “Okay, I’m in the Fiction section. Does that mean it’s true or not true?”

  11. Wow, making light of a heinous atrocity…

  12. What is it makes Nextel more hideous than other phones?

  13. Nextel has that walkie talkie feature that has that “beep beep” thingy

  14. Using a cell phone is a capital offense in North Korea? …really? Jesus F’ing H. Christ.

    But they have great health care! And a high literacy rate! And they ARE a Democracy!

    Dan T and joe… Did I do OK? 🙂

  15. I want the same for the marketing trolls who came up with “Where you at?”

    It led to a decent Aqua Teen episode.

  16. How do the NKs get network coverage?

  17. Today on the way to work, I had a guy next to me talking on his cell phone (squeezed between his neck and shoulder) who was also drinking coffee and had his breakfast sandwich sitting on the dashboard above the wheel. He crosses into my lane and runs me off onto the shoulder… I blare my horn and he somehow manages to drop all his other activities and flick me off…

    Needless to say, my conceal carry permit almost got put to good use.

  18. Someone who can’t bother to put on an ear-piece while they’re driving deserves to be ticketed.

    Someone who tries to make the one-handed-turn in traffic while refusing to put the phone down deserves the North Korean judicial system with the streamlined appeals process.

  19. Yes, Rex, your effort to be a dishonest prick was perfect.

  20. In Carlisle PA, this guy would’ve been put away for illegal wiretapping.

  21. Since the osetnsible aim of the Maine/Oregon bills are to decrease the risk of deadly car crashes, maybe they would do well to adopt N Korea’s penalty system.

    The PSA’s alone would be worth it.

  22. *watches the video*

    *absorbs it a bit*

    That is so fucked up, on so many damned levels.

  23. what I found encouraging about the video was that someone was filming it despite risking the death penalty doing so.

  24. Today on the way to work, I had a guy next to me talking on his cell phone (squeezed between his neck and shoulder) who was also drinking coffee and had his breakfast sandwich sitting on the dashboard above the wheel. He crosses into my lane and runs me off onto the shoulder… I blare my horn and he somehow manages to drop all his other activities and flick me off…

    Needless to say, my conceal carry permit almost got put to good use.

    Needless to say, this example probably serves as a good illustration of why people shouldn’t be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

  25. Yeah, not using them is a crime against humanity, dick-head.

  26. ummm, why does North Korea have cell phone towers?

  27. ummm, why does North Korea have cell phone towers?

    Our laws don’t apply to our “leaders”, why should theirs…?

  28. increased its public executions against cell phone users

    See, that’s how you crush dissent. Not by making snarky comments on talk radio shows.

    Needless to say, my conceal carry permit almost got put to good use.

    Not a jury in the land would have convicted ya, bub.

    Needless to say, this example probably serves as a good illustration of why people shouldn’t be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

    Yet, somehow, Dan T., my man J.P. managed to resist the evil violence rays emanating from his hot, throbbing handgun, and refrain from doing anything but honk his horn.

    Which is the whole point. Which you miss. Again.

  29. what I found encouraging about the video was that someone was filming it despite risking the death penalty doing so.

    There is that, and that’s not insignificant.

  30. I think the most important point here is that three brave people – the two who were executed and the one who made the video – were willing to risk and give their lives for the rights we take for granted.

    It is very humbling.

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