Just a quick glance at North Korea’s secret prison camps

posted at 7:41 pm on January 25, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

I tend towards ranting about the deplorable state of human rights in communist China quite a bit around here, but while we’re on the subject of North Korea’s recent belligerent advances, there is plenty that goes on behind their dictatorial borders that the Kim regime doesn’t care for outsiders to know about, either. When it comes to the many, despicable, and rule-of-law flouting human rights abuses that go down in North Korea, the government’s constant refrain is deny, deny, deny — but the Telegraph reports that human rights activists are looking for proof through other, more innovative means.

Rights groups are pushing the United Nations high commissioner for human rights to open an international investigation into Pyongyang’s “deplorable” record on its citizens’ rights, including a system of political prisons that has operated for more than 50 years.

Pyongyang insists that the camps do not exist and are merely foreign propaganda, but the advent of high-resolution, free images from outer space has disproved that claim.

On January 18, the North Korean Economy Watch website announced that a new camp had been identified alongside an existing detention facility in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province.

Using newly provided Google Earth images, analyst Curtis Melvin was able to conclude that the new camp sits alongside Camp 14 and has a perimeter fence that stretches nearly 13 miles. …

Activists say that as many as 40 per cent of inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death.

The United Nations is looking into launching an investigation into North Korea’s egregious record, and I suppose that every little bit helps — but as long as nefarious power blocs and authoritarian regimes like this are allowed to go on, the systemic and widespread human misery will of course continue. (But remember, guys — it’s free enterprise that’s really evil, or something.)


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Sanctions.//

CW on January 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Escape from Camp 14 by Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known escapee from a camp, makes for horrifying reading.

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Escape from Camp 14 by Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known escapee from a camp, makes for horrifying reading.

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Dear…God…

Just reading the entry on fricking Wikipedia gives me horrors.

MelonCollie on January 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

The United Nations is looking into launching an investigation into North Korea’s egregious record

No. No! Dear Buddha NOOOOO! Anything but a U.N. investigation into something everyone has known about for decades!

Bishop on January 25, 2013 at 7:52 PM

progressive regimes are awesome

rob verdi on January 25, 2013 at 7:53 PM

What more evidence do we need to show how useless the United Nations is? For crying out loud, why do we allow that despicable organization on our soil? It’s not like the United States government is working toward world domination by the so-called New World Order. I mean, er, uh, hmm…

HiJack on January 25, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Just a quick glance at North Korea’s secret prison camps

…Jimmah Carter retirement centers?

KOOLAID2 on January 25, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Sanctions.//

CW on January 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Nah, the solution is simple. Higher taxes in the United States.

BobMbx on January 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Dear…God…

Just reading the entry on fricking Wikipedia gives me horrors.

MelonCollie on January 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

I hope no one in our current admin reads that book.

VegasRick on January 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Erika,

Unfortunately nothing will be done ever, the UN is a worthless organization that should be booted from our soil immediately, and the camps inside NK are styled after Soviet Block camps, although they are tailored to NKs specific region, Camp 14s survivor is one account, but Korean war vets can give you a good account as well, brutal doesn’t even cover it!

MarshFox on January 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

VegasRick on January 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Funny that, I was going to comment and say coming to a FEMA camp near you, ah but I am a cook so please disreguard./s

MarshFox on January 25, 2013 at 8:00 PM

If the UN is involved, then uselessness and failure is bound to follow.

Philly on January 25, 2013 at 8:00 PM

are, I meant

Philly on January 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Liberals dream to do this to us conservatives.

watertown on January 25, 2013 at 8:06 PM

What a horror. This should NOT be happening in our world today.

Paul-Cincy on January 25, 2013 at 8:06 PM

With all due respect, when people say “never again”, and then we have this, what are they talking about?

Paul-Cincy on January 25, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Escape from Camp 14 by Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known escapee from a camp, makes for horrifying reading.

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Dear…God…

Just reading the entry on fricking Wikipedia gives me horrors.

MelonCollie on January 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

It was a present from a relative – “because you like politics.” If the relative knew the contents Grandpa wouldn’t have received this particular present.

I started to read it as bedtime reading and couldn’t handle it there. I read it a bit at a time during the day.

To engage in hyperbole, it almost makes One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (which I read when I was young) and the Soviet Gulag look a vacation at the Black Sea in comparison.

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 8:17 PM

The United Nations is looking into launching an investigation into North Korea’s egregious record, and I suppose that every little bit helps

Very little.

If only the powers that be would heed Senator McCain’s call for a League of Free Nations.

In the UN, the thugocracies of the world block any meaningful rebuke for anyone.
Except for Israel.

itsnotaboutme on January 25, 2013 at 8:27 PM

He is also the only person known to have been born in a North Korean prison camp and later escaped from it.

Prenatal and natal care still better than Planned Parenthood.

tom daschle concerned on January 25, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Oh, if only we could be like China North Korea for one day! The things we could accomplish without any obstructionists and that old worn-out Constitution thing!

GarandFan on January 25, 2013 at 9:19 PM

By God, they have found Shangri-La!

Bmore on January 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Wonder if they’re similar to ours?

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 25, 2013 at 11:46 PM

Escape from Camp 14 by Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known escapee from a camp, makes for horrifying reading.

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

There is also “Camp 14: Total Control Zone” on Netflix streaming where Shin Dong-hyuk tells his story… or at least the parts he can tell. It is obvious when you see him on the screen, with his long pauses and thousand-yard stares past the camera when recalling his time in the camp, that there are many horrific memories he is unable to tell.

SPCOlympics on January 26, 2013 at 12:40 AM

The thing that struck me the most about Shin Dong-Hyuk’s story was that he didn’t know a world existed outside the camp. He assumed the guards were also born at the camp, and were born to have guns and abuse him. He had no idea what lay beyond the camps razor wire, much less outside North Korea.

He had no feelings we would recognize as familial, despite living in close contact with his mother and brother. He claimed to have no feelings when watching their executions.

This is something progressives/communists/totalitarians have always recognized – that humans are ridiculously maleable, and can be formed into whatever the evil amongst us wish….provided there is enough force behind their dictates.

We view this world as a passage to the next, and better world. The oppressor views this world as “it”, and they will be god, and entertain whatever sick fantasies should cross their mind in the same way a child incinerates ants with a magnifying glass.

I put nothing past them.

Kungfoochimp on January 26, 2013 at 2:18 AM

Who will lead this UN investigation…Iran?

workingclass artist on January 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

its Bush’s fault

Aggie95 on January 26, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Pyongyang insists that the camps do not exist and are merely foreign propaganda, but the advent of high-resolution, free images from outer space has disproved that claim.

To the original tinfoil-hat guys, this is not a problem. After all, have you actually seen those satellites? How do you know those are pictures of North Korea, and not, say, Flagstaff? This proves nothing! If they hold a radical view of reality in their heads, things that contradict it are not necessarily proof of anything.

GWB on January 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Until China acts to move against this evil regime, nothing will be done. And China won’t do it because they don’t want millions of starving NoKos pouring across their border.

RebeccaH on January 26, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Part of the problem with seeing N Korea for what it is, and has been for many decades, is their comic rulers. Their successive Marx brothers regimes have made ousiders dismiss them as hopelessly eccentric but then ignore the vast brutality behind the vaudeville.

In terms of human suffering, this is worse than any oppression by arab dictators in the middle-east, which seems to so tug at the heartstrings of Hollywood democrats.

China is not afraid of North Korean immigration, but finds it useful to have a somewhat autonomous plausibly deniable client as an irritant to the west and a buffer from the embarassing reality of successful South Korean capitalism.

The sham of N Korea extends to their military threat also. Who believes that a starving country without a power-grid can sustain a conflict for more than 10 minutes?

It is foolish to play along and negotiate with these frauds, as successive administrations have done. They should be called on every threat and action needs to be taken on all fronts on this disgrace to humanity.

virgo on January 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

The sham of N Korea extends to their military threat also. Who believes that a starving country without a power-grid can sustain a conflict for more than 10 minutes?

Well the issue is more like how much damage NK can do in those 10 minutes

DaveO on January 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Drained Brain on January 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Thanks for the link

My understanding is with the three generation rule, if there are not three generations to imprison, the prisoners will be made to reproduce, so the camp can meet requirements of torturing three generations.

On a Christian program, I heard details from an escaped guard, who reported when Christian women gave birth, they were required to strangle their offspring. According to that report, when one woman was too weak to kill the infant, the doctors were made to strangle the infant and they did so crying. Asked if he felt guilt, the guard replied they were raised to believe the prisoners deserved the punishment, so there were no feelings

Dear…God…

Just reading the entry on fricking Wikipedia gives me horrors.

MelonCollie on January 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Agree. I read ref (13) the medical report
Here is 2003 MSNBC guard story

entagor on January 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Another read is: The Aquarium’s of Pyongyang
And after reading about Camp 14 anyone who questions the illigitimacy of the NorKos has a brown ring around their neck.

But what the hey, lets keep Libya, Iran and Zimbabwe on the UN Human Rights Commission. Oh, and lets nominate the PRK to the next open seat on this worthy commission.
I’m certain John F’ing Kerry will support this position.

Missilengr on January 27, 2013 at 1:24 AM