A mother and daughter reportedly went missing while picking plants in the mountains in Onsong County in mid-April. They may have been arrested by soldiers guarding a military base on the site of the former political prison camp (Camp 22) in Hoeryong, which was closed in 2012, Daily NK sources recently reported, citing rumors in the area.
The area where the mother and daughter went missing is a mountainous region in Changpyong-ri, located in North Hamgyong Province, and is close to the site of the former concentration camp. Local residents who farm in the area and pick edible mountain greens have expressed sadness and fear upon hearing that the two went missing.
“Local residents are full of anxiety over the missing mother and daughter. The two went deep into the mountains to pick greens and were never heard from again,” said a source based in North Hamgyong Province.
Local residents said that the mother and daughter had worked at a cooperative farm in Changpyong-ri, but were unable to receive rations and lived in extreme poverty. Three months ago, the two women had to sell their house and had been living in the mountains in a hut made from mud and wood.
“There were other women from Changpyong-ri picking edible greens near where the mother and daughter lived, but soldiers guarding the base in the mountains allowed the two women to pass through the fences to pick greens even deeper in the mountains than the other women,” said the source. “They obviously benefited from this, but then they suddenly disappeared off the map last month.”
The daughter was rumored to have been in a relationship with a soldier at the nearby base. Now, according to the rumors, the two women have been arrested for trespassing on state property, according to a separate source in North Hamgyong Province.
She also noted that the two women’s whereabouts has not been confirmed, but this has not prevented the spread of rumors. The No. 22 Concentration Camp was closed in 2012 and the site is now managed by the military, but the former camp’s facilities may also have been converted into a military base.
“Some local residents say that the two women defected [to China] to escape their grinding poverty, she said, expressing sadness for the extreme poverty the two women suffered in before they disappeared.
“They were always hungry and lived tough lives, so a lot of locals are sad to hear that they went missing.”