Prisoners Catching Rats for Survival

Ahn Hyok, Former Detention Settlement Prisoner  |  2006-02-21 14:56
Finding food in the detention settlement is a endless battle for survival. We ate whatever we could find – rats, frogs, snakes, insects, grass, beans, or corn grains found in cattle droppings. If we were caught eating anything other than the rationed corn, we were severely punished. Security officers would say, “Remember you are a criminal! The ration should be enough for you!”

However, the severe beatings and punishments did not stop the prisoners from attempting to get additional food. Catching a snake is a real fortune, like butchering a cow. If they find a snake while working, all of them work together to kill it and share it among themselves. When they roast snakes, they have to be extremely careful not to be detected by the security officers. I know a case of death of a prisoner by snakebite while trying to catch it. The great men in the settlement are those who are good at finding food or catching rats, snakes or frogs.

At first, they used a lance or spear to kill the rats. But the blood made other rats run far always the blood also made it difficult to treat the meat afterwards. As a result, they devised all kinds of hooks to catch rats. Rats become extremely difficult to find.

Sometimes, they would find crows flying with a branch of corn. The prisoners would throw stones at the crows and they would drop the corn before flying away. Prisoners pick it up to eat. Often, the prisoners would quarrel among themselves about who hit the crow and who should claim the few pieces of corn dropped by the crows. Those who could not find other food would often break ice in the stream to look for frog eggs.
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