Monday, 26 December 2011

Inside North Korea

Death of big brother, Kwan-li-so, witnesses and satellite photographs

By Luke Kristopher Davis

Isolated from the world since the rein of King-il-Sung, North Korea has become a cold, deluded and power monopolized nation. Their 'beloved' leader (pictured above) has fallen due to a heart attack but his totalitarian  infrastructure still stands in all of its atrocities. Will the death of King-jon-Il initiate any internal political rebellion or movement? This may be unlikely as a surprising amount of North Koreans show actual distress and sadness through their mourning of their once leader. Also the dictatorship has been running for over half a century, which being longer and more painful than Qaddafi's regime means more time is needed to devise any political upheaval.

This video explicitly shows the absurd emotion the people felt over his death. One has to ask whether all of them are honest as the punishment for not mourning properly is either a sentence to a decade of starving labor or death. 

What is more likely however is the increase of external international pressure on the North Korean government to at least reduce the physical impingement of human rights on its citizens and to release prisoners from the kwan-li-so (Penal - labor camps)  and other detention facilities. This will come about through the good modern secular way: media, media, media and a bit of courageous secret service/ government services decision making. Also to help this would come from more escapees and former guards who have taken refuge  in South Korea, China or even the United States:

'In his 1997 history Korea’s Place in the Sun, Bruce Cumings predicted, “... if and when the [North Korean] regime falls, we will probably learn of larger numbers [of people held in prisons and reform-through-labor camps] and various unimaginable atrocities...”' David Hawk U.S Committee for human rights in NK

I think it is appropriate to replace the 'regime' in the quote with the death of King-jon-Il as the grapple over the nation and the National security forces (guards of camps) will leave room for escape for some extremely lucky Koreans.

Detention facilities, witnesses and Satellite location photographs 

Image: United States Committee for human rights in North Korea (after a good research session)

The brutally starved child that struck you as you entered this article is most probably a product of one of these facilities. This is just one of the inhumane truths that you will find after reading evidence from witnesses from the camps (which will be provided here). It is unclear how much of the North Korean populace know about these camps, they may know about certain punishments for certain political disloyalty... make that any disloyalty to the government but not about the '1984' like re-education camps. Even with such knowledge it is extremely difficult for anyone to escape the borders, contact any international help or even to revolt internally.

As you can see from the image the camps are spread all over the territory but only a few are near any sort of border. From the camps that are shown it seems as if they are meant to be hidden from external eyes. The image shows 13 camps that have been photographed, but the numerical ordering of the camps (derived from witnesses, such as guards) are higher than 13. This could mean there are more camps to discover which is not  a good sign for anyone. 

The camps function and label are divided by its degree of severity and importance. For example there are 'lifetime' camps which include political prisoners who go through starvation, painful labor, torture and psychological mistreatment due to a 'wrong doing'. There are re-education camps for those who are not as hostile as others but are in need of indoctrination, it is not clear what the method of indoctrination is but a part of it includes physical beatings which happens in all of the camps. The prisoners include some of the family of those who have committed a crime against the 'dear' leader and the communist/ totalitarian ideology. 

'In the kwan-li-so, tens of thousands of political prisoners —along with up to three generations of their families — are banished and imprisoned without any judicial process for usually lifetime sentences. Their sentences entail slave labor in mining, logging, and farming enterprises in the valleys of mountainous areas in north and north-central North Korea.' David Hawk U.S Committee for human rights in NK.
This law that any wrongdoer's family for three generations have to be captured and imprisoned is simply barbaric and it is one of many absurd consequences of the delusional regime. The working (communist) party urge that any factionalist, rebel or disloyal Korean may pass down their hatred or wrong view down the family and must be stamped out. This concept, that an idea or feeling can be passed genetically or that strongly down three generations is scientifically wrong. Also the fact that the regime is trying to 'stamp' out any diverging view from communism and the regime is a sign of control of the worst kind. Fundamentalism gone mad. How on earth do they think that controlling the intellectual freedom and emotions of a nation is just? I think the North Korean regime have lost any reasonable notion of just a long time ago.

Here is part of a witness' account of his time in four penal-labor facilities:

WITNESS: Former Guard AHN Myong Chol,    
Kwan-li-so Nos. 11, 13, 26, and 22

'AHN Myong Chol was a kwan-li-so guard. Ahn was born in 1969 in Hangwon, South Hamgyong
Province. Ahn came from a good Korean Workers’ Party family, so for his compulsory military service, he became a bo-wibu (National Security Agency) police guard assigned, consecutively, to four different kwan-li-so: No. 11, at Kyungsun, North Hamgyong Province, from May to August 1987; No.13, at Jongsong, North Hamgyong Province, from August 1987 to the winter of 1990, except for four months during this time when he was sent to the much smaller prison No. 26.

Ahn’s guard duties included making deliveries by truck to various parts of Kwan-li-so
No. 22. This assignment gave him unusual mobility within the camp, even for a guard.
He learned much from his conversations with other guards while making deliveries to
various sections of the camp. His work at four of the camps provided him with comparative insights into the functioning of the kwan-li-so system. Also of interest is his guard
training and indoctrination. 

Ahn reports that the prisoners were referred to as “emigrants.” Great stress was placed
on the harm and threat that “factionalists” posed to the revolution; how factionalism
produces class enemies; how factionalists and class enemies have to be destroyed like
weeds, down to their roots, through the yeon-jwa-je three-generation family-incarceration system; and how guards have to exercise their control duties so as to reveal to the
class enemies the dictatorship of the proletariat. Like some of the former prisoners, Ahn
recalls the shock he felt upon his first arrival at a camp, where he likened the prisoners
to walking skeletons, dwarfs, and cripples in rags.'

 Number 22

No.22 (marked as no.5 in the overview photograph... second closet to Russia) acts as the head quarters for the Kwan-li-so and is run by “Chosun People’s Security Unit 2209”. It is 31 x 25 miles in area coverage and there are approximately 1000 guards,  600 admin staff and around 50,000 prisoners. Most of these prisoners are family of those in lifetime camps. The prisoners are made to do severe agricultural labor and other repetitive work which is part of their punishment as found in the U.S human rights report:

'Ahn reports that the annual agricultural production quotas for Kwan-li-so No. 22 were as follows: 400 tons of corn, 100,000 tons of potatoes, 50,000 tons of lima beans, and 10,000 tons of red peppers per year. The camp also grew Chinese cabbages, radishes, cucumbers, and eggplants, and had a distillery that produced soy sauce and whiskeys. No. 22 mined coal that was shipped to the Chongjin Thermal Power Plant and the Chongjin and Kimchaek Steel Mills.'
 This is beyond disgusting. Innocent North Koreans are being punished for disobedience of a delusional leader and system! The regime is also using the prisoners to generate capital and to establish trading contracts.
Slave labor rings a bell here, but hold your horses, the regime pays the prisoners 500 won a year. 1 won is nearly equivalent to 1 dollar which at this minute equates to 0.64 of a pound. Therefore the prisoners receive £320 per anum + being beaten, starved, ripped away from any notion of freedom, happiness and hope.

There are reports of over 1000 prisoners, mainly children, who die of malnutrition. Deaths were also caused from overly excessive beatings:

'In fact, Ahn says, there were so many deaths from beatings that at one point the guards were warned to be less violent.'

Marriage in the camp is allowed to privileged prisoners (who the hell counts as a privileged prisoner?) but sex is banned. There is one account which a pregnant woman was executed for having sexual intercourse with another prisoner. In some camps the women who have sex are ridiculed and beaten.

WITNESS: LEE Soon Ok, Kyo-hwa-so No. 1

'Soon Ok was born in 1947 into a privileged and stalwart Korean Workers’ Party family. Her grandfather had fought in Kim Il Sung’s Manchurian army against the Japanese occupation of Korea. Her son was enrolled in Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, open only to children of the elite. Trained as an
accountant, Lee rose to become a supervisor in the No. 65 Distribution Center in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, which distributed Chinese-manufactured fabrics to party and state officials. She was arrested in 1986 in what she believes was a power struggle between the Workers’ Party, whose
members run the nationwide distribution system, and the public security bureau police, who were not satisfied with the amount of goods being provided to them by the distribution centers. She was charged with theft and bribery and held for seven months in the Onsong bo-wi-bu (National Security Agency) ka-mok (jail), where she was tortured severely because she refused to confess to the allegations against her. Then, upon her expulsion from the Party, she was transferred to an In-min-bo-an-seong (People’s Safety Agency) provincial interrogation center, where she was held for another seven months and further tortured.

To escape even further torture and threats against her family members, Lee ultimately
agreed to sign a confession. Afterwards, she was given a public trial and sentenced to
fourteen years at Kyo-hwa-so No. 1, located at Kaechon, South Pyong-an Province,
where, among other things, the prisoners manufacture garments. Though she originally
worked in the ordinary sewing lines, she was eventually transferred because of her
accounting and managerial experience to the administrative office of the prison, where
she had the opportunity to observe and learn a great deal more about how the prisonlabor camp was run.'

Number 22 and number 1 are examples of the sick, twisted and damn right irrational actions of the North Korean regime which was recently under King-jon-il's command. If the world sent out more reports, more photographs and more evidence about camps like this, I don't think North Korea will be able to stay hidden and as it is for much longer. This may sound very un-empirical and sloganish but as human beings we do have a moral duty towards others, this may in fact be wired into our biological systems, but it is there. As inhabitants of a secular nation where information and its playground sit on the pedistool, we have a duty to use it to increase awareness of the disgusting ignorant facism that still pervades on the surfaces of earth.

Here are more satellite images and a video taken from a documentary:

Number 14

Number 18

Let's bring down ignorance.

thanks to U.S committee of human rights for north korea and to David Hawke


  1. I recently picked up Escape from Camp 14. There are no words for how horrendous this is.

  2. why not simply launch a cruise missile at the dear leader, his entourage and anyone stepping up to replace him? Ah yes, I forgot the US President is too busy trying to look good in front of cameras and reading speaches others wrote for him off teleprompters.