A recent visitor to the site of the former No.22 Political Prison Camp at Hoiryeong in North Hamkyung Province has updated Daily NK on the handover of land to civilian control, noting that the change is now practically complete.
The source told Daily NK on the 27th, “All the political prisoners and management staff from No.22 Political Prison Camp in Hoiryeong-ri, Hoiryeong City have been withdrawn. There is not one person left, and the newly arrived farmers are busy preparing compost for next year farming.”
“All the Hoiryeong-ri farmland that was part of the prison camp has reverted to Hoiryeong Farm, and instead of being run by a special management committee it is being farmed by teams made up of local people,” the source added. “The provincial Rural Management Committee has dispatched the heads of these teams.”
Clearly revealing the new nature of the former prison camp region, the source went on, “The Hoiryeong-ri work teams are not using the special phone number that was used by the National Security Agency when it used to manage the prison camp; they are using Hoiryeong City numbers that start with ‘077’ instead. Team one is on 077-33-1741 and team two is on 077-33-1742.”
“The area no longer gives the impression of being a prison camp area,” the source concluded, adding that the former camp housing is being used by the new arrivals following internal improvements, while electrified wire entanglements are being or have been removed.
In September, Daily NK exclusively reported on the defection of the camp warden, the act that may have forced the North Korean authorities into closing the camp. It remains unclear where the remaining political prisoners were sent following its closure.