Political Pawns

After the horror of the Nazi concentration camps during WW2 no-one in their right minds could imagine something like that ever happening again, but how wrong we all are.

The Two Luckless Reporters

The arrest, and now conviction of two female US journalists to twelve years hard labour in North Korea has turned attention to the plight of all political prisoners in North Korea. The two were arrested after supposedly crossing the River Tumen, which is the border between North Korea and China, although some say they were snatched from the Chinese side. Whatever the truth is, this event has focused attention on North Korea’s prisons and labour camps

The West has for decades known about the forced labour prisons, or ‘Gulags’ as they are usually referred to, but little attention has been paid to them by anyone, despite the stories of inhumane treatment, murder and torture from escapees who have made it to freedom.

No-one really knows how many of these gulags exist, but it is estimated there are about a dozen political prisons, and some thirty forced labour camps spread throughout the desolate mountainous valleys of North Korea.

Huaenyong Prison Camp

Many have now been found and photographed from space, and some are the size of small countries. Two in particular, Haengyong and Huaong are larger than the County of Columbia in Washington State (874sq.mls-2262sq.kms). Haengyong is said to be three times the size of this state, and is surrounded by ten foot high barbed wire fences plus mines and mantraps. It even has a battery of anti-aircraft weapons to prevent the camp being liberated from the air.

The labour camps house anyone who disagrees with the regime, or has voiced even a small criticism. The previous ‘Dear Leader’ Kim il-Sung, Kim Jong-il’s father decreed that three generations of all families denounced for dissension would be sent to the camps. With the words; “Factionalists or enemies of class, whoever they are, their seed must be eliminated through three generations” he made it clear it was considered prudent to ‘purge’ the bad blood from society.

Anything can be classed as ‘dissension’. One former female detainee was arrested and sent to the gulags for singing a popular South Korean pop song in her home, which ‘disturbed the socialist order’.

Typical is the arrest in the middle of the night carrying nothing but the clothes on your back. There is no trial or hearing, you are shipped to an ‘interrogation’ facility where you are tortured until you confess, once that is obtained you are transferred to the political penal colony where you are issued with a pick and shovel, crude cooking utensils and an old army blanket.

Korean Work Camp Inmates

Kang Chol-Hwan, who was an inmate for ten years before being released and escaping to the South where now works for a South Korean newspaper, has related how he grew up in prison because his grandfather had once ‘made complimentary comments about Japanese capitalism’. When he arrived in the camp he was nine years old.

He tells the story of children set to digging clay and constructing a building. While they were digging it collapsed and they died. The bodies were secretly buried and the parents were not even told, even when they came looking for them. He is also quoted as saying that he saw some elderly white caucasian males who he thought could be prisoners from the 1950-1953 Korean War.

He saw people being worked to death, prisoners beaten to death, rapes, executions, and babies kicked to death. Forced abortions among the women are commonplace, where the pregnant woman’s womb is forcibly injected with salt water to kill the baby, regardless of how long the woman has been pregnant. Even at nine months! Any woman who manages to give birth to a live baby watches while the guards kick and beat the baby to death. The death of all infants is said to ‘eradicate a new generation of dissidents’.

The Dear Leader

It is compulsory for mothers to watch as their sons and daughters are executed. Many families are forced to denounce their children in public before an execution. One escapee related how a mother was coerced to say; ‘Though you are my son, you are a traitor and a puppet of the imperialist. You deserve to die.’

In March 2005 a secret video of a public execution was smuggled out of North Korea. According to witnesses, a pole was erected for the execution even before the ‘Judge’ had reached a verdict. The prisoner was carried out, both arms and legs had been broken during his interrogation, and pebbles were placed in his mouth to stop him shouting insults about the Republic before he died.

The catalogue of cruelty in North Korean labour camps is unending. People, men women and children, have been kicked so hard by guards that their bones have been exposed amid the torn flesh, at which point the guards deliberately put salt into the wounds to compound the agony and torture.

Any guard who killed an ‘escapee’ was rewarded with an opportunity to study at a college. This caused the death of numerous innocents.

Many people have reported scores of inmates being used for biological and chemical testing. One witness, a prisoner from 1987 to 1993, states she saw fifty inmates marched into an auditorium and fed a piece of boiled cabbage. Within thirty minutes they had all vomited blood and died. She said the biological warfare researchers were excited about the event and were rejoicing at the effects, which were better than they had anticipated.

Border Fence - To Keep People IN.

No-one knows how many camps or political prisoners there are, but the nearest guess estimates around 200,000 at just six that are known, and analysts have concluded from escapees stories that between 20 and 25% of prisoners die annually from the harshness of the work in the mines, factories, farms and logging sites. This is not surprising when you realise they are deliberately kept in a weak state of semi-starvation, just like the victims of the Nazi’s and Stalin.

Many of them are young children, forced to work alongside grown-ups from 06.00hrs every morning until late evening. If you do not fulfil your work quota for the day you get less food. The work was so harsh and the rations so meagre that children never grew to normal height. Malnutrition caused seventeen-year-old boys to be no more than 150 centimetres (5 feet) tall weighing forty kilos (88 pounds), sometimes less.

The high profile arrest and sentencing of the two journalists, now means the world’s attention is finally being turned to the despicable events that are an every day occurrence in these places. This is what the two young ladies have ahead of them if a deal is not agreed between the government of North Korea and the United States.

Border Guard On Patrol

Once inside the wire rape is guaranteed, as is malnutrition and beatings if things follow the normal pattern. We will have to see if that is the case for such high profile prisoners. I hope for their sake Kim Jung-il will be cautious in his dealings with them. For should they come out alive after being tortured, beaten and starved, and tell what has happened to them, the wrath of the United States will be a monumental thing.

Let us all hope intervention is swift, and forget not the unfortunates already suffering there.

Roy.

2 Responses to “Political Pawns”

  1. using human as experimental testcase is also a vs-item. yes. shocking you? telling truth..they have located their testcamps with european, even money forced in contract of netherland for their humantest camps in the middle of russia. this will never be reported by vs itself i think, so i have to do it, an outsider! hypocrites pointing to north korea while being self doing the same thing for their nucleair weapon programmes it’s a running and human be used for killing, being killed

    Like

    • Hi Dorine,
      I must admit to having a little difficulty in understanding your english, but I will do my best. I think what you are trying to say, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that the USA is, or has, carried out tests on humans at camps in Europe and in the middle of Russia.
      This I find very hard to believe. Do you seriously think the russians would allow such an american facility on their territory? I don’t. But I have no information to back up or deny your statement so all I can say is please show some form of evidence for your accusation and I will publish it.
      Regards,
      Roy.

      Like

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