I always hated to be posted at the ammunition store at Detention Settlement No.22. It was so close to the jail that I could occasionally hear beatings and yelling clearly. One evening in the summer of 1990, for example, I could hear a Japanese wife, about fifty years old, protesting, “I had a good life in Japan and I was never discriminated against there. We only came to North Korea because President Kim Il Sung asked us to come. Is this the paradise ha talked about? How can you treat me like this only because I am a Japanese wife?” Her Korean was good and she was making her points very clear to officer Kyong-chol Lee, in between the beatings and screaming that continued for about an hour. I could hear the sound of water splashing.
With her last bit of strength, she protested again, “Woe is me! Why did I follow my husband to North Korea with the children? I thought North Korea would be my second home. Why do we have to be spies? I only thought that my relatives in Japan would lead a good life without knowing about the awful life we live here. Hey, you dog, send our family back to Japan! If you can’t send us to Japan, kill us all. I can’t live like this in North Korea anymore. Send us back to Japan…” I heard a heavy sound just before she finished speaking and an iron stick falling to the cement floor. I never heard her voice again.