Prison Camps in Vivid Images

[imText1]There is a place where people disappear without due process, get publicly executed, tortured, suffer extreme malnutrition and do 12 hours of forced labor every single day. The place, of course, is North Korea’s political prison camps.

To renew attempts to keep a focus on this anachronistic camp system which is said to house 200,000 North Koreans, Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet) has issued a new booklet, “North Korea’s Political Prison Camps in Pictures.”

The booklet contains drawings of camp systems drawn by the likes of Kim Hye Suk, who was imprisoned from 1975 to 2002 in No. 18 Camp in Bukchang, South Hamkyung Province; Shin Dong Hyuk, who was held in No. 14 Camp in Kaecheon, North Pyongan Province from 1984 to 2005; and An Myung Cheol, who spent 14 years as guard at No. 22 Camp in Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province in the 1980s and 90s.

It covers the current state of the political prison camp system; directions to No. 14 and 18 Camps; the ways prisoners continue to live, descriptions of forced labor and torture; and cases of public execution that these former prisoners have testified to witnessing.

All the events explained in the book are accompanied by copies of drawings made by the former prisoners themselves, many of which cannot be easily found elsewhere and which include drawings of the camps themselves; drawings as accurate as any satellite photo.

Among the most harrowing pencil-drawn images are those of torture inflicted on the prisoners. Shin Dong Hyuk, for example, describes how he was handed “fire torture” in punishment for the fact that his brother and mother had been caught attempting to escape, not to mention the story of how the two were publicly executed while his father and he were forced to watch.

The book also contains a letter written by Kim Hye Suk, in which she expresses the feeling of loss after her 13 year old daughter and 9 year old son died in a flood in 2003;

“This mother’s promises will never be left aside in the afterlife,
And if you are alive, how desperately you must be seeking your mother!
It has been long since I lost you; I have lived in despair. ”

Talking about the 20-page publication, an NKnet staff member explained yesterday, “We are issuing this booklet to let people in the international community and South Korea know the real truth of North Korea’s political prison camps.”

An English-language version of the publication will be issued in the next few weeks, the staff member added.