North Korean concentration camps?
The North Korean government denies the existence of concentration
camps in the country, but they are well known to the North Korean
people as ?reas of complete dictatorship control? These areas are
given numbers such as Rehabilitation Center no. 14 or no. 15, and
controlled by the Ministry of National Security.
In general, concentration camps are regarded as prisons, but the
?reas of complete dictatorship control? as suggested by their name,
are quite different from ordinary prisons. North Korean concentration
camps take the form of villages located deep in the mountains. These
villages and the mountains surrounding them are designated ?reas
of complete dictatorship control? and are contained by heavily guarded
fences. From the outside, it is impossible to tell that these areas
are concentration camps. The no. 15 Rehabilitation Center where
North Korean defectors Kang Chul-hwan and Ahn Hyuk used to be imprisoned
stretches over two-thirds of Yoduk County in South Hamkyong Province.
Thus, this camp is generally dubbed the Yoduk camp. The village
within a camp is divided into several sections. Because North Korean
criminal law involves the system of guilt by association, punishment
of a crime usually constitutes placing the entire family of the
criminal in these camps. So a camp village is divided into sections
housing singles and families. There are also villages made up of
repatriated Korean- Japanese.
Concentration camps are located all over North Korea. The locations
of the following camps have been confirmed: no. 14 and 18 in Kaechon,
South Pyongan Province, no. 26 in Dongshin, Yangpyong-Seungho (moved
in Jan. 1990), no. 15 in Yoduk, South Hamkyong Province, no. 27
in Chunma, North Pyongan Province (moved in Dec. 1990), no. 12 in
Onsung, North Hamkyong Province (moved in May 1987), no. 13 in Jongsung
(moved in Dec. 1990), no. 12 in Hweryong, no. 22 in Chungjin, no.
11 in Kyongsung (moved in Oct. 1990), and no. 16 in Hwasung. It
is likely that most of the locations have changed, because when
the location of a camp is discovered, the government shuts down
the place and moves it elsewhere. It is reported that there are
currently over 200 thousand people scattered in 12 concentration
Unlike other prisons, a criminal sent to a concentration camp for
political prisoners has no idea when he will be set free. Even though
people serving sentences in ordinary prisons are mostly innocent,
they can at least count the days until they are set free, but political
prisoners are given life sentences. This means that they will live
the rest of their lives in enforced slavery and die in the concentration
Concentration camps are divided into areas under permanent control
(closed camps) and areas undergoing revolutionary education (re-education
camps). The latter is where people who have committed so-called
minor political crimes are sent along with their families. Some
of them are eventually rehabilitated. In the case of Yoduk camp,
most of the inmates are repatriated Korean- Japanese who had failed
to adapt to North Korean society or to remain useful to the regime.
Most of them are sent to the camp with no formal charges. Some of
them are set free according to the amount of money their relatives
in Japan remit to the country. Even those Korean- Japanese who used
to be part of the ruling class can one day find themselves in Yoduk
if Kim Jong Il feels the need to dispose of them. After they receive
a certain amount of education, they may be rehabilitated. Kang Chul-hwan
and Ahn Hyuk are cases in point. But the rehabilitated ones are
among the lucky few; most of the Korean- Japanese sent to concentration
camps stay there for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, inmates
are sent from re-education camps to closed camps usually for rebelling
against a security agent. According to Kang, some of the people
who were caught and sent to re-education camps for secretly believing
in God were transferred to closed camps for praying in secret.
People who are placed in closed camps will never leave that place.
Initially, closed camps were filled with landlords, pro-Japanese
persons and religious leaders who were segregated in the process
of nation building, as well as security officers during the Korean
War. But the closed camps are now filled with former members of
the ruling class who were either purged by Kim Il Sung during his
rise to power or by Kim Jong Il during his ascension to his father?
position. Other inmates in these camps include critics of Kim Il
Sung, Kim Jong Il or the regime, and students and employees who
had secretly associated with foreigners. Recently, North Korean
escapees who are suspected of having contacted South Koreans while
hiding in China are beginning to make up the majority of the population
in these camps. It is reported that some of the closed camps are
located in Dongshin, Kaechun, and Pyongjun-ri and Yongpying-ri in
A closed camp is considered the land of no return where oppression
is even harsher than re-education camps. Knowing this, inmates in
re-education camps live in mortal fear of being sent to a closed
camp. Some even choose to commit suicide rather than being sent
to that hell on earth. The difference between the two categories
of concentration camps is obvious in the way inmates are supposed
to behave in front of the guards. In re-education camps, prisoners
must bow at a 90 angle when they come upon a security agent, whereas
in closed camps, they have to kneel. In Center no. 14, where North
Korean defector Kim Yong used to be imprisoned, inmates had to turn
around and kneel when a guard passed by. The degree of forced labor
intensifies in closed camps, and the prisoners are fed very little.
It seems that closed camps have different conditions. A high-ranking
official in the Ministry of National Security had Kim Yong transferred
from camp no. 14 to no. 18, and according to Kim, no. 18 was paradise
compared to no. 14. In camp no. 14, Kim worked from 6 in the morning
to late at night in a coalmine, where he never got to meet other
inmates because he was shut in a pit on his own. At least Kim got
to climb out of the pit to sleep at night. According to an instructor
who used to belong to the Kim Chek College of Engineering, the inmates
in the goldmines of Balwon in Chakang Province worked in shackles
and slept in the pits 300m underground. (Kim, Jungyeon. Pyongyang
Woman. Koryo Publications, 1995) Inmates there do not get to see
sunshine until the day they die.
Most prisoners in concentration camps dream of escaping, but eventually
realize that it is impossible and therefore give up. Most of the
camps are situated deep in the mountains and surrounded completely
by barbed wire and traps. So even if the prisoners manage to escape,
they usually die in the mountains. Furthermore, most of the prisoners
are so weak that they can barely walk, much less run away. There
are cases of survivors such as a young former commando who succeeded
in escaping from his camp but was caught in China, and Kim Yong,
who also escaped and made it to South Korea. But such cases are
extremely rare because the North Korean authorities, fearful of
having any of these places discovered, make sure that they are heavily
guarded at all times. The only means of escape is committing suicide,
a choice that the prisoners often take. But even this is not an
easy way out. If a prisoner commits suicide, his family has to serve
his sentence, and are subject to even harsher punishment. In spite
of this, suicide rates in concentration camps are very high.
The camps are run by security agents of the Ministry of National
Security and guarded by guards from the same Ministry. North Korean
defector Ahn Myong-chul belonged to the 7th Guard of the Ministry
of National Security. A handful of the security agents treat the
prisoners humanely, but they never last long. Any agent caught helping
the prisoners is sent to the coalmines. So security agents treat
political prisoners harshly in order to protect themselves, and
they eventually become less and less humane. Professor Haruhisa
Ogawa of Tokyo University deplored the situation that made beasts
out of both prisoners and security agents.
The history of North Korean concentration camps
Concentration camps in North Korea were initially set up for landlords,
pro-Japanese, or religious figures, but have gone through a few
stages of transformation.
The first stage is after the Korean War, when the concentration
camps are expanded to accommodate the members of the South Korea
Labor Party, the Russian group, or the Yanan sect. These people
are victims of the extensive purge campaign launched by Kim Il Sung
as he climbs to the position of Great Leader. Others sent to the
camps in this period are criminals of the Korean War- families of
persons who defected to the South, and security officers who worked
for South Korea.
The next stage is from the late 1950s to the end of the 1960s,
when Kim Il Sung commands the intensive guidance program and the
campaign to reregister the North Korean residents. Through this
campaign, all the North Korean residents are categorized under core,
wavering, and hostile classes, which are again divided into 51 security
ratings. Those classified hostile are all sent to concentration
camps. And at the end of the 1960s, political dissidents who resist
the one-ideology system are also sent to concentration camps.
In 1972, the management of concentration camps passes from the
Ministry of Public Safety to the Ministry of National Security.
More camps are built, and the control of existing ones tightened.
During this period, the explosive growth of political prisoners
and the increase in the number of camps lead to several riots and
escape attempts by inmates. In Ahn Myong-chul? journal And They
Were Crying, Ahn mentions a riot that took place in the early 1970s
in camp no. 12 in Onsung. The political prisoners take spades, sickles,
and axes and sneak into the village where the families of security
agents and guards are staying. They kill all the wives and children
of the security agents, but in the end, all 5,000 of them are killed
by guards armed with rifles and machine guns. After several such
riots, the guards and security agents become more and more cruel
in their treatment of political prisoners, and tighten surveillance
and control. It is during this period after the Ministry of National
Security takes over that the Ministry establishes the method of
maintaining and managing the camps, which continues to this day.
Then in the 1980s, the period when Kim Jong Il succeeds his father,
those who oppose the inheritance of power are sent with their families
to the concentration camps. The number reached some 15 thousand.
As the regime? control over society intensifies after the collapse
of the Soviet Union, large numbers of students and diplomats who
are abroad are placed in the camps. And from the later half of the
1970s, many of the repatriated Korean Japanese meet the same fate.
In conclusion, the concentration camps for political prisoners
in North Korea were constructed during the process of nation building
to accommodate those who got low security ratings, the so-called
bad apples. But they were expanded in the process of Kim Il Sung?
rise to power, and served the purposes of the regime through the
process of Kim Jong Ils inheritance of power, the collapse of the
eastern bloc, the food crisis, and the consequent struggle to maintain
Who are the people in the concentration camps?
There is no such thing as a perfect society. So it is only natural
that there are always people who want to change society, be it through
good or bad methods. Most of the democratic societies in the world
including South Korea have had their share of trials and errors,
and experiments, through which people tried to change the society
they live in. The attempts that they have made and the thoughts
they have been put through open the way for discussion and inspection.
But there are still many countries that have yet to undergo such
a process, and these countries naturally have plenty of so-called
political criminals. The international community has always used
the existence of political criminals and their treatment as the
yardstick in measuring a countrys human rights standards.
Currently, the country with the biggest number of political criminals
is none other than North Korea. But according to the North Korean
authorities, there are no political criminals in North Korea. The
regime calls its republic paradise on earth, and so political criminals
would be unthinkable in such a place. Who in his right mind would
oppose heaven on earth? In the places called rehabilitation centers
in this paradise, countless people meet their deaths, but the places
always maintain a steady number of 200 thousand inmates. What is
happening? What have they done to be labeled criminals in a paradise
on earth? Are they really political criminals?
Political prisoners in concentration camps in North Korea all have
their own stories to tell, but generally, they can be divided into
the following categories:
Persons with bad security ratings (hostile class) and their families
The hostile class is divided into 21 subcategories: people who
were downgraded to the working class after the liberation, rich
farmers, landlords, pro-Japanese and pro-American persons, anti-peasant
bureaucrats, practitioners of the religion Chondogyo, repatriated
Koreans, Christians, people who were expelled from the workers party,
people punished by the party, members of enemy organizations, families
of convicts, people related to spies, people guilty of anti-party
or counterrevolutionary crimes, families of executed convicts, people
with criminal records, political criminals, member of the democratic
party, and capitalists. During the period from 1966 to 1970, the
campaign to reregister all residents and the project to divide the
entire population into 3 classes and 51 subcategories resulted in
the execution of 6,000 people and the imprisonment of 70,000 people
or 15,000 families in concentration camps. It was during this period
that concentration camps were expanded. Then in 1980, during the
inspection of resident IDs that followed the 6th Workers Party Convention,
most of the people who had been lucky enough to escape imprisonment
in the late 60s were caught and sent to concentration camps. Like
Kim Yong, a North Korean defector who escaped from camp no. 14,
people are caught and sent to the concentration camps in the process
of resident re-registration and resident ID inspection, all carried
out on a regular basis.
The only reason why these people are in concentration camps is
that they have bad security ratings. But time has passed, and the
first generation of the hostile class has died, leaving behind their
children and grandchildren to live in concentration camps for crimes
they do not know anything about. Can such people be called political
Counterrevolutionaries and their families
From December 1958, political criminals were accused of counterrevolutionary
crimes and imprisoned, executed, or deported to remote mountainous
areas. And then from 1973, when Kim Jong Il began to condition the
system in preparation to inherit his father's power, until 1980,
when Kim Jong Il was officially named Kim Il Sung's successor at
the 6th Worker's Party Convention, thousands of critics and political
enemies were arrested. Entire families were sent to concentration
camps. If truth be told, genuine counterrevolutionaries existed
only around the period of national liberation and the Korean War.
After that, so-called counterrevolutionaries were people regarded
by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as political enemies in their respective
efforts to gain power. Most of these counterrevolutionaries are
sent to closed camps and spend the rest of their lives there.
Counterrevolutionary or anti-state crimes consist of the crime
against national sovereignty, the crime of opposing the national
liberation struggle, and the crime of concealing or failing to report
anti-state crimes, as stipulated in articles 44 to 55 of North Korea?
penal code. But the definitions of such crimes are so ambiguous
that Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il could easily manipulate the law
to send an innocent politician to a concentration camp, no matter
how high his rank was. And if Kim Jong Il thinks that some high-ranking
party member is behaving insolently, all he has to do is sign a
command that will send that member straight to a concentration camp,
even if he or she is not a political enemy. Well-known high-ranking
officials such as Kim Chang-bong, Kim Bong-hak, Park Kum-chul (former
vice-premier and member of the Political Bureau), Heo Bong-hak (former
chief of the agency for communizing the South) and Kim Kwang-hyup
(former chief of the party? secretariat) were sent to concentration
camps. It is doubtful that these people were guilty of counterrevolutionary
crimes defined in North Korea? penal code.
Actually, what is more fearsome than North Korea's penal code is
the 'Ten-point principle for the establishment of the one-ideology
system' Ordinary North Koreans know little about the penal code
and other laws. They are not taught what constitutes a crime and
what does not. For example, Ahn Hyuk, a North Korean defector, went
to China out of curiosity, and not knowing whether that was a crime
or not, decided to give himself up to the authorities. He ended
up in a concentration camp. North Koreans do not need to know the
difference between a crime and a non-crime; they simply do as they
are told. But things have changed with the introduction of the ten-point
principle, which begins with a statement urging the people to give
their all in the struggle to color the entire society with the revolutionary
ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung. It would be unthinkable
for anyone in North Korea to be ignorant of the ten-point principle,
much less go against it. The ten-point principle has become the
law above all laws.
When Kim Jong Il gained unchallenged authority, he implemented
an ideological program that became the basic mandate of the Workers
Party. The program is aimed at establishing the one-ideology system
and the one-leadership system. This program takes precedence over
all other laws including the Constitution and the penal code. This
means that even without using the penal code? definition of counterrevolutionary
crimes, any action deemed as a diversion from the Great Leader?
ideology can be condemned as the worst crime of all.
Establishing the one-ideology system means unifying the entire
society under the Great Leader? ideology and denouncing all other
ideologies. In other words, the one-ideology system is a system
that idolizes the Great Leader, turns his ideology into a faith
that borders on religion, totally legitimizes the ideology, and
makes it the people? duty to show unconditional loyalty to the leader.
Establishing the one-leadership system means uniting the party,
army, country and people in mind and body under the command of the
Great Leader. The entire nation moves as one to follow the dictates
of one leader.
Under the pretext of establishing this one-leadership system, the
North Korean regime has accused countless innocent people of counterrevolutionary
crimes and sent them to concentration camps for political prisoners.
Most of these people are punished for absolutely ridiculous charges
such as slandering Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, failing to memorize
Kim Jong Il? New Year Address, disfiguring Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong
Il? portrait or badge, disfiguring the names of the two leaders
printed in the newspaper, or being rowdy or insolent in front of
the statue of Kim Il Sung.
High-ranking officials in the Ministry of National Security and
the Workers Party have the authority to interpret the law as they
see fit. But there is one exception, and that is the 'Ten-point
principle for the establishment of the one-ideology system' Anyone
who violates this is immediately and unconditionally sent to concentration
camps for political criminals. Naturally, these people cannot be
considered political criminals by normal standards.
Repatriated Korean- Japanese and their families
A considerable number of people with Japanese citizenship offered
up all their worldly possessions to Kim Il Sung and took the ferry
bound for North Korea in order to serve their motherland. But most
of them end up in concentration camps, where they spend the rest
of their lives regretting their choice. In particular, first generation
repatriates who brought their families to North Korea carry the
added burden of guilt for causing their children and grandchildren
to suffer in the camps because of them.
The repatriated Korean- Japanese are sent to the concentration
camps with no formal charges because of the following: First, the
authorities assume that people who have lived for so long in a democratic
society would naturally be dissatisfied with the one-ideology system.
Second, the repatriates have a hard time adjusting to a society
that is so different from the one they left. The food crisis of
recent years has weakened the regime? control of information, but
until the early 1990s, government propaganda had been quite successful
in convincing the people that North Korea was the most advanced
country in the world. Naturally, Korean- Japanese who knew the fallacy
of the regime? claims would have been a threat to the regime. Kim
Bo-kuk, a taxi driver, was sent to a concentration camp for commenting
to his passenger, a repatriate, that Japan must be quite a developed
country. So one can imagine how suspicious the regime must have
been of repatriates who had spent most of their lives in Japan.
Yoduk camp, which received its first Korean- Japanese prisoners
in 1974 (600 prisoners, or about a 100 families), has maintained
a steady population of 100 to 200 families until 1979. In 1986,
it was reported that Yoduk camp was holding a total of 5,300 prisoners
comprised of about 5,000 repatriates and 300 other criminals. Since
the 1980s, the number of repatriates has decreased, with almost
no further influx of such people. Among the repatriates, Korean
women who had married Japanese men have had the most difficulty
in adjusting to life in concentration camps. Most of them survive
less than 2 or 3 years. From 1977 to 1979, 14 Japanese wives were
detained in camps. Most of them died within 3 years and only 2 were
released. But with North Korea? move to establish diplomatic ties
with Japan, there are recent reports that the Japanese wives are
separated from other criminals and accorded slightly better treatment.
Like Kang Chul-hwan, some of the Korean - Japanese are set free
because of the cash that relatives in Japan send to North Korea.
But in most cases repatriated Korean- Japanese meet their deaths
in concentration camps.
North Korea? version of liberalists and their families
The North Korean regime prohibits any contact with foreigners and
tightly controls the influence of so-called liberalism in order
to maintain its reclusive dictatorship. However, a person? curiosity
is not something that can be controlled by others. North Koreans
working or studying abroad, and workers in the service industry
who come into contact with foreigners regularly undergo intense
ideological education and screening. In spite of this, many of them
become too curious for their own good and make blunders that land
them in concentration camps.
Park Seungjin, a member of the North Korean soccer team that took
the world by storm during the 1968 World Cup by beating the Italian
team, is a case in point. Because of his curiosity, he had to give
up the comfortable life of a national hero and spent the rest of
his days in a concentration camp. With the World Cup final game
with England just around the corner, Park and his teammates sneaked
out of their rooms and partied all night with English women. They
had been curious about how people in liberal countries lived. When
their night of partying was discovered, the whole team was sent
to concentration camps. Park was slightly luckier than his teammates
because he was sent to Yoduk re-education camp, while the rest were
sent to closed camps where conditions are much harsher.
Many diplomats working abroad who made unnecessary contact with
foreigners were charged with espionage, tortured, and finally sent
along with their families to concentration camps. In particular,
the collapse of the Eastern bloc in 1989 and incidents like the
escape of North Korean students studying in Russia prompted the
North Korean authorities to step up their crackdown on diplomats
and students studying abroad. These people were summoned home, interrogated
and spied on, and a considerable number of them were sent to concentration
Some of the North Koreans were in constant contact with foreigners
while living in North Korea. They were people serving or entertaining
foreign visitors to North Korea. Anyone who talked to the foreigners
outside their line of duty or visited their rooms went straight
to concentration camps. Kim Myong-jun, a guide working at Koryo
Hotel, was shipped to Yoduk camp for visiting a foreigner in his
room during the April 15 Kim Il Sung Birthday celebrations. It was
another case of 'curiosity killed the cat'
In North Korea, people are accused of liberalism if they listen
to or sing South Korean songs, dance the disco, or travel without
permission (something that is obviously out of control these days).
Even the ruling elite is not exempt from punishment for ideological
diversion. Kim Jong Il? brother-in-law Chang Sung-taek suffered
because of his liberalist actions. He had imitated Kim Jong Il's
parties and organized his own group of women entertainers. When
word of this reached Kim Jong Il's ears, Chang was shipped to the
coalmines, where he went through a long period of unbearable hardship
before he was called back to his post.
Recently, with the explosive increase in the number of North Korean
escapees, those caught and dragged back home are questioned on whether
they were in contact with South Koreans or other foreigners. Some
of them make false confessions, either because they cannot stand
the torture or because they are tricked by the agents who promise
to let them go if they tell the truth. Anyone who admits to meeting
foreigners is executed or sent to a concentration camp.
Abductees and others who entered North Korea
So far, more than 480 South Koreans have been kidnapped and held
captive in North Korea. Most of them are fishermen who were kidnapped
while at sea, and there are also people who were abducted while
they were overseas in China or Germany. Most of them are used for
propaganda or espionage, but when their usefulness is over, they
are sent to concentration camps. North Korean authorities are reluctant
to send them back despite the fact that the South Korean government
has finally brought up the issue, because they are afraid that the
world would discover how badly the abductees had been treated.
Most of the people who went to North Korea either because they
were fooled by North Korea's propaganda, or because they were on
the run from South Korean authorities ended up in concentration
camps. They were sent to the camps because, like the repatriated
Korean-Japanese, their ideological purity came under suspicion or
they had problems adjusting to North Korean society. Some of them
are simply disposed of in camps because they were no longer useful
to the regime. Sometimes, people are sent to the camps immediately
after they hold press conferences announcing they had entered North
Korea for righteous reasons. These people are nurses or students
who had been staying in East Germany, stowaways headed for Japan
who had taken the ferry bound for North Korea, former soldiers,
or businessmen. After they end up in concentration camps, their
homesickness intensifies, which only makes it harder for them to
survive the miserable conditions in the camps.
There are not that many abductees or other Koreans who had willingly
entered North Korea. But because of their behavior and accents,
they easily stand out from ordinary North Korean residents.
Families left behind by North Koreans defectors
Before the severe food shortage in North Korea, there were occasional
incidents where North Korean officials or diplomats defected to
South Korea. But since the food crisis, a considerable number of
North Korean have made their way to South Korea via Russia or China.
As of the year 2000, their number has exceeded 1,000. With the exception
of those who are already well known, most of them wish to hide the
fact that they have defected to South Korea, because if they are
discovered, their families and relatives in North Korea are sent
to concentration camps.
In the much-publicized case of former secretary of the Workers
Party Hwang Jang-yop, casual acquaintances and distant relatives
who did not even know him were rounded up and sent to remote mountain
villages, coalmines, concentration camps, or even before the firing
squad. Their number actually exceeded 10 thousand. If spies who
had been sent to South Korea choose to turn themselves in and change
their citizenship, the families they left behind in North Korea
are all sent to concentration camps for political prisoners. Ahn
Hyuk, who was in a concentration camp around the time North Korean
secret agent Kim Hyun-hee was arrested for blowing up a Korean airliner,
said that Kim? family was shipped to Yongpyong camp.
More and more genuine political criminals
Anyone in North Korea who is thinking of opposing Kim Jong Il has
to be prepared to put the lives of his or her family and relatives
on the line. That is why it is so rare to see even ordinary demonstrations
in North Korea, not to mention any open criticism of the regime
or public discussions. But even in that suppressive atmosphere,
people are struggling to gain the freedom to live like humans. There
are rumors of activities by dissidents, and although most of them
remain unconfirmed, the beginnings of an organized movement seem
to be in gear. Lee Young-hwa, a professor of Kansai University and
the first Korean -Japanese to do a self-funded academic research
in North Korea testifies to the existence of a secret anti- Kim
Jong Il organization. The members are currently biding their time,
waiting for their abilities to grow and for the right time to strike.
Extensive surveillance usually leads to the discovery of such organizations
before they attempt anything. The members are shot to death and
their families sent to concentration camps for political prisoners.
Criminals falsely accused of political crimes or counterrevolutionary
activities are executed in public to teach the people a lesson,
but genuine political dissidents are executed in secret, which frustrates
fact-finding activities. But these days, with relatively easier
access to information than before, rumors of anti-state activists
are spreading like wildfire.
Actually, North Korean authorities are right when they claim that
there are no political criminals in North Korea. The people who
are suffering and dying in concentration camps for political prisoners
are not political criminals in the real sense; they are scapegoats
in Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il? struggle to maintain power. They
were obedient citizens who cooperated fully with the regime but
ended up in concentration camps simply because they were only too
human in making a small mistake or letting their curiosity get the
better of them. Countless people lived and died like beasts in concentration
camps for truly ridiculous reasons. They were suspected of ?deological
impurity just because they were Korean- Japanese. They supposedly
had the potential to undermine Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il? authority
despite their dedication to establishing the one-ideology system.
They were the descendents of wealthy people, they had a religion,
or they were South Korean soldiers, and the list goes on. They are
not political criminals, just victims of a fanatical regime.
Today, it has become clear that the abject suffering of the North
Korean people is the direct result of the incompetence, blunders
and tyranny of the Kim Jong Il regime. The dissatisfaction of the
North Korean people against their incapable leader is nearing its
peak. Through the cracks that the food crisis put in Kim's dictatorship,
news of the outside world is seeping in to slowly crumble the absolutism
of Kim Il Sung's ideology. However, concentration camps will not
disappear so easily. Rather, the camps may have to be expanded to
accommodate the increasing number of genuine political dissidents
who fight for freedom and life. Or the entire society may very well
turn into one huge concentration camp. (to be continued...)