Cruel Punishment for Children

Kang Chul Hwan, Child Prisoner of the North Korea Gulag  |  2005-10-30 13:14

Kang Chul Hwan
Mr. Kang Chul Hwan, a former child prisoner in a North Korean primary detention settlement, was born in 1968 in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. He was only nine years old when his grandfather disappeared one day and he was arrested and detained in the Yodok primary detention settlement together with his grandmother, father, uncle and a sister in 1977. They were released after ten years in 1987. In 1992 he and Mr. Ahn Hyok, also a former prisoner in the same settlement, defected to South Korea. He studied business administration at Hanyang University, Seoul, and he is a journalist of the Chosun Daily.
He is co-founder of Democracy Network against North Korea Gulag, an NGO organized by North Korean defectors.

One afternoon, we were brought back to school from work to watch my teacher punish six children who stopped work to eat cherries in the hill. Their lips and hands were stained black with cherry juice.

“On your hands and legs! Put your body weight on your hands and move backward!” he said to them. He kicked one of the children and yelled. “Bend your back!” When the children moved half way across the school playground, their palms began to bleed. I felt like vomiting at the sight. Girls were sobbing and other children trembled with fear.

The children wept and begged, “Sir! Please forgive us and don’t kill us.” He showed no sympathy. He kicked them and beat them if they stopped. One of the children could no longer continue and help up his hands. The teacher kicked him hard in the face, smashed his torn hands and made him continue. Other children fell down and could no longer continue. He told them to get up and show him their palms. At the center of the bleeding palm, the cherry stains still remained. He made them do it again and move in circle around the playground. He finally stopped them and told us. “See what will happen to you if you stop work, you got it?”

The six children were told to work with their torn and bleeding hands three hours longer than the other children do that day.
 
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