Crackdown on superstitious behavior leads to life sentence for unlucky fortune teller in North Korea
Following reports of a public execution of a fortune teller in December last year in Chongjin, Daily NK has learned that another fortune-teller received a life sentence in Pyongsong in February this year. Until October 2018, those charged with engaging in superstitious behavior were typically sentenced to 1-2 months in a correctional labor camp, but the crime now carries severe penalties, including the possibility of execution.
“In February, a woman who was living in Munhwa-dong, Pyongsong, was placed on public trial for fortune-telling. Many party executives, state security officials, and police officers went to see her during their business trips or mobilization activities. The authorities made an issue out of it and gave her a life sentence,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK.
North Korea’s penal code stipulates that a person who engages in superstitious behavior can receive a maximum of three years of correctional labor (Article 256). However, the lady in question received punishment grossly exceeding what the law stipulates.
A separate source in South Pyongan Province who corroborated the news said, “When an important order is handed down in North Korea, there is always a demonstration of that order and the fortune-teller was just unlucky.
“When the authorities decide to make an example out of someone, those with power can escape, but powerless people such as fortune-tellers are punished,” he explained, alluding to the fact that the party executives, state security officials, and police officers who visited her were not punished.