In a press conference held by Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag (NKGulag) and the Crimes against Humanity Investigation Committee, forced abortions and experiences of torture in North Korean detention facilities were thrust into the spotlight on Monday.
As part of North Korea Freedom Week, the press conference, “Reality of North Korean Political Prison Camps and Victims of Torture in Detention Facilities,” was held on the 26th, with five witnesses testifying to their experiences.
One, Shin Hye Suk (pseudonym), who was imprisoned in Kaecheon Reeducation Camp, crossed the border in 1998 for the first time. During ten years in China she was repatriated and escaped no fewer than five times.
She described witnessing abortions within the camp, “In the detention house, there was a woman who had gotten pregnant in China and then been repatriated. When she was just about to give birth, the guards did not care of her until the last moment. Anyhow, eventually, a doctor took her away to hospital. After a while she came back alone to the cell, crying.”
She explained, “In the cells, we did not have the right to speak, so nobody was able to ask her directly what had happened or where the baby was, but everybody knew how they had treated her and her baby and what had happened to her. She did nothing but cry for several days.”
She also testified to other horrifying experiences in the Kaecheon Reeducation Camp, “When I got caught and interrogated by the National Security Agency, they pushed me to sing a song, ‘There Is No Fatherland If You Are Not There,’ but I didn’t want to sing it. So I was tortured; no sleep for the night and singing the song over and over while sitting on my knees.”
She continued, “A meal was two spoons of dirty corn and a bowl of salt water, so almost everyone got diarrhea, dysentery or colitis. Those who had a strong immune system survived there, but others did not.”