It has been confirmed that the people now farming the land formerly within the confines of No.22 Hoiryeong Political Prison Camp are low class families from the local counties of Saebyeol and Eundeok.
A source from the region reported the news to Daily NK, after noting that the former prisoners of No.22 were sent south by freight train early in June, while camp staff sold off the camp’s remaining harvested produce in the local market. Foodstuffs such as pork, corn and oil produced by political prison camps are known to be of high quality, and sell relatively easily.
A different source also commented on news released by Daily NK in late September asserting that the camp warden had defected, saying, “He hasn’t been caught to our knowledge, so people here assume that he is already enjoying the white rice of South Chosun,” before adding that “It is people from Saebyeol County and Eundeok County who are doing the farming there now.”
No.22 Hoiryeong Political Prison Camp was one of North Korea’s ‘Completely Controlled Zones,’ meaning that prisoners were interned there without hope of release. In the words of Shin Dong Hyuk, who was born and grew up in another such camp, No.14 Kaechon, “We lived like slaves, without a clue who Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il even are.”
One defector who accidentally got within viewing distance of the camp at Hoiryeong some years before her defection in 2009 explained her own story, saying, “I was heading into the mountains to pick medicinal herbs with the ladies from my people’s unit when we lost the way and came up against the perimeter of the camp. The guards there grabbed us and took us away by car, bound and blindfolded. We were terrified for a day and more, but we didn’t actually see a thing.”