Secret Execution (I)

In March 1991, we began our first day of marching at Detention Settlement No. 22. By nightfall, we were exhausted and decided to camp at Sugol Valley. We were instructed to cook rice without kettles for training the next morning. Cooking rice without kettles requires digging ground and collecting stones, dry leaves and firewood. I was digging into the ground some 50 centimeters deep when I hit something hard and soon unearthed an object that looked like a broken piece of wood. Somebody behind me shouted, “Look! It’s a corpse.” I looked at it carefully and found it was a human leg. Then, others here and there shouted, “It’s a grave yard here!” Soon, the other guards found recently buried corpses. The officers examined the corpses and ordered us to bury them. The guards who were collecting stones and dry leaves ran down from hill and exclaimed, “Wow! Skulls!” We marched to another hill near the investigation corps. We all hoped that we would never see that appalling sight again, not even in our dreams.

When I was transferred to Settlement No. 22 from Settlement No.13 in February 1990, I found out that, just like in Settlement No. 13, there was a secret killing field in Settlement No. 22, Sugol valley, Samsok District. Killing prisoners in secrecy is a standard practice at North Korean detention settlements. There are also public executions to serve the purpose of warning all prisoners. Prisoners who maintain improper relationships with security personnel, such as sexual relations, are murdered cruelly in secrecy.

Sugol Valley was a dreadful plkace infested with crows and wild beasts such as boars, wolves and foxes. The Sugol Criminal Investigation Corps, staffed with senior security officers, was in charge of guarding the valley. Accidentally, this area was also used by guard units for marching and camping for 3 days and 2 nights each year.

Once, the State Security Minister, Byong-do Kim, had a villa in one of the detention settlements. He picked up prettiest girls to sleep with and then sent them to the 3rd bureau for human biological testing.

The following incident, which occurred in the seventies, is common knowledge among security officers and guards and often quoted in ideology sessions:

“In the seventies, when a large number of security officers were involved in scandals with girls in the detention settlements and punished as a result, Minister Kim ordered all the prison settlements to kill all pretty female prisoners, girls in particular, to avoid any further similar scandals. As a result, 250 pretty female prisoners were massacred in Life Detention Settlement No.13 at that time.”