View of Camp 14 in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province / Photo: Google Earth

Camp 14 is one of North Korea’s prison camps for political prisoners, located in Oedong-ri, Gaechon, South Pyongan Province. It faces another camp, Camp 18, which sits two kilometers to the southeast across the Daedong River.

The inmates dig coal in underground mines or work hard in the fields. North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk was born and raised at Camp 14, despite having generated controversy and earned censure for claiming he was at Camp 18. The home in which he grew up is in the prisoner lodgings on the right side of the image (see 38 North’s DPRK Digital Atlas).

In the Google Earth images, you can see corn hung out to dry in the camp’s inner courtyard in autumn. Accordingly, it is assumed that corn makes up most of the farmland on the mountain slopes. Of note is the public execution ground at the far right end of the image.

Using high-resolution images, Daily NK analyzed changes in Camp 14’s major facilities in each of the camp’s three zones: A, B and C.

Zone A of Camp 14 / Photo: Google Earth

Zone A is home to Camp 14’s headquarters and administrative facilities, as well as about 80 buildings where prisoners live. Three large buildings (55.5 meters × 23.0 meters, 30.8 meters × 14.5 meters and 34.5 meters × 36.2 meters, respectively) — apparently administrative facilities — have been newly constructed, while the roofs of six buildings have been painted blue.

Zone B of Camp 14 / Photo: Google Earth

In Zone B, five of the zone’s 53 prisoner lodgings have been demolished, while one new lodging has been constructed. Four of the demolished buildings were 20.5 meters × 16.3 meters in area, while one was 11.4 meters × 13.0 meters. The newly built one is 23.3 meters × 14.5 meters.

Zone C of Camp 14 / Photo: Google Earth

In Zone C, you can see the corn the prisoners harvested in autumn hanging to dry in an empty space in the courtyard (colored in yellow). If you look at the Google Earth images, you can see that as the years pass, the amount of corn drying gradually grows smaller, perhaps because of bad harvests. The Central Committee takes the coal and agricultural products produced in the camp, though camp cadres reportedly siphon off portions, too.

To sum up, Camp 14 has an estimated 180 or so lodgings for prisoners, and Daily NK detected the demolition of five prisoner residences, the erecting of one new one and the construction of three new, large-scale administration buildings. Moreover, the roofs of several buildings were painted blue. Particularly noteworthy was the addition of three large buildings where Camp 14’s headquarters is located. What these changes suggest, however, has yet to be determined and will require continued observation.

North Korea denies the existence of camps like these, and rejects out of hand requests by the international community to visit or observe the facilities.

Daily NK confirmed the name and location of Camp 14 by referring to material from the U.S.-based website 38 North and the South Korea-based Database Center For North Korean Human Rights (NKDB).

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