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North Korea’s Gulags
October 23, 2003 10:26 AM   Subscribe

The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps (PDF) is a new report by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea on North Korea's prison system for political prisoners. Using testimony and satellite photography, the report documents the kwan-li-so (political penal-labor colonies) and kyo-hwa-so (long-term prison-labor camps,) in which hundreds of thousands of political prisoners work as slave laborers, and are subjected to starvation diets and torture. Also documented are the jip-kyul-so repatriation centers along the Chinese border, where forced abortion and infanticide are common. Unsurprisingly, many North Korean defectors are haunted by guilt over loved ones left behind.
posted by homunculus (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Great post. This stuff deserves more attention.
posted by Tlogmer at 10:56 AM on October 23, 2003


North Korea bad, few human rights. Guess what folks, we've done this before, several times. Isn't it about time to declare a moratorium?

~big wink~

Seriously, homunculus, nice post. See also Amnesty International's report on NK prisons:

These detention places are reported to be located in requisitioned buildings in urban centres, close to railway stations and in areas close to the Chinese border. Although they are not officially prisons, people appear to have been detained there against their will, often in appalling conditions. According to the testimony of former inmates, some 20 to 50 people are often crammed into a small room and are given a very small amount of food each day. Many people are reported to have died of hunger and disease in such places. Security is relatively lax and many people have escaped while others secured their release when their families paid a bribe. Some are reported to have been sent repeatedly to such places. One source described how a 21-year-old said he had been sent to a detention place in Chongjin in the east of the country where the detainees were only fed once a day with cakes made out of corn stalks. They were forced to work all day and were held in such cramped conditions that they had to sleep sitting up. He said that after one week at least three of his cell-mates had died.

and their report on the persecution of refugees:

Thousands of North Koreans have been fleeing their country of origin as a result of severe food shortages that have hit the country since 1994. Their government, however, criminalizes the act of leaving the county without permission. But North Koreans continue to flee in desperation. The vast majority of those who leave without permission go to China where they face human rights violations and an uncertain future. Although China is a State Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it is not meeting its international obligations to protect these North Koreans.

'Course, one can't help but be curious about whether it is North Korea or maybe the United States that has killed more civilians over the past few years in the interests of "national security" (but competition is healthy, don't you think?) And in the midst of all that bloodshed, it's heartening to read about the human rights records of U.S. ally South Korea.

The total volume of crude oil reserves in North Korea seems unclear at this point, and God only knows whether Dear Leader tried to kill anyone's daddy. So who can really say what the current U.S. administration plans to do about this particular mess, eh?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2003


If NK didn't have 20 000 artillery tubes pointed at Seoul and a murky nuke program I would have absolutely no problems sending in the troops.
posted by PenDevil at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2003


'Course, one can't help but be curious about whether it is North Korea or maybe the United States that has killed more civilians over the past few years...

Well considering that the disastrous policies of the North Korean govt has killed millions, I'm pretty sure, heck I guarantee it, that NK is in the lead here.
posted by PenDevil at 11:59 AM on October 23, 2003


...in the interests of "national security" (but competition is healthy, don't you think?)

Comptetion in a capitalist world isn't necessarily supposed to be healthy for every individual, just for the overall system. It's basically a biological model--some living cells may have to be compromised or killed so that the majority of cells can live healthy, productive lives.

I'm not saying that makes it nice, but that's the idea behind it. In the case of NoKo and the USA, the competition is healthy for the nation-states involved, and arguably therefore healthy for the residents of those nation-states, although not necessarily for ALL, just the preferred few.

Again, it sucks ass, but the alternative is a system where the model is more a human being with leprosy or hemophilia. There's no sensitivity to pain or weakness at all, so small wounds eventually become festering sores, or small lacerations can't clot and the patient bleeds to death.
posted by jengod at 12:25 PM on October 23, 2003


If NK didn't have 20 000 artillery tubes pointed at Seoul and a murky nuke program I would have absolutely no problems sending in the troops.

This is exactly why that maniac John Bolton wants to use tactical nuclear weapons. Although there is some logic to his thinking.

Hopefully North Korea will just collapse like the former Soviet Bloc.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2003


Good report.

More first-hand testimony here.

It's just a matter of time, but the North Koreans could certainly be stonewalled a little better until their insane Stalinist system collapses.
posted by hama7 at 3:43 PM on October 23, 2003


I expect to see International A.N.S.W.E.R. setting up million people marches any day now...

any day now...

And the anti-war protestors left over from Gulf War II, I expect to see filling the streets too...

"No blood for North Korea..."

"Stop the madness."

Or, as I like to say about them: "Your silence is deafening."
posted by swerdloff at 9:08 PM on October 23, 2003


swerdloff - so American ex anti-war protestors are supposed to be protesting against the unilateral US invasion of North Korea or for it?

I'm confused.....what would stop this sort of gross human rights abuse by the North Korean government? - Invasion!


OK then.....protest marches to pressure the US to invade? Or should the anti-war protestors oppose this on the pragmatic basis that such an invasion would be really, really dumb or even disastrous? Hey - that position sounds pragmatic! Wait a minute.......all these labels keep getting mixed up. The anti-war protestors are pragmatic, the war supporters are ideological idealists........
posted by troutfishing at 9:53 PM on October 23, 2003


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