Poor Treatment of Female Inmates in North Korean Gulags

Female internees in the Jungeori correctional facility

From Daum:

Treatment of female inmates in North Korean gulags

A book entitled ‘Please Save me from Dehumanizing Crimes’ – an episode regarding a North Korean correctional facility containing the graphic testimonies of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the Chongori concentration camp, also known as ‘hell for defectors’ is due out soon.

On the 25th of June, the North Korean Human Rights Information Center director Kim Sang-hun released a statement detailing how the book (that is based on witness accounts of those who survived the internment and documents collected by the North Korean Human Rights Information Center and the accounts of another 6000 North Korean defectors) came into being.

The Chongori correctional facility is located deep in the mountains, 12km away from Hwe-ryong, North Hamgyong province, North Korea neither reveals the locations nor marks them on the map. 80% of the Chongori correctional facility internees are there on charges of defection, and this particular facility is infamous for torture and other gross physical abuses.

Other inmates are variously convicted of watching foreign broadcasts or singing foreign songs, or voicing criticism towards the regime.

Two men aged 25 from Hweryong were forced to kneel in freezing temperatures from morning until they perished in the cold. If the young men so much as tried to get up or moved, the security personnel rushed to kick them down. It is uncertain what they were guilty of but it was ‘probably nothing more than picking up cigarette butts or stealing some food.’ It is common to receive this kind of physical punishment for picking up cigarette butts or talking to other inmates.

During physical punishment, squatting with both arms tied behind one’s back is also commonly practised. If prolonged, it induces nausea. Before meals, inamtes are sometimes required to stand up and sit down 100 times before eating. An inmate caught escaping was dragged by the rope around the neck by a truck until he died. Another inmate who broke down crying after watching a beating was also beaten himself.

The North Korean refugees who were sent back pregnant after being forced to prostitute in China are forced to abort in Chongori. One defector recalled that a woman allegedly carrying a Chinese baby was subjected to genital burning so as to not be able to conceive again. Other women are forced to sexually service the guardsmen and, if they refuse, their genitals are often burnt.

Given the harsh treatment, the death rate is very high. One inmate remembered that only 5 surived out of 40 who were originally interned together after 3 years. Another recalled that out of 50 in the room, 29 perished.

The one man in charge of disposing the bodies detailed that between June 30th of 1998 and January 19th of 1999 he had ‘buried exactly 859 bodies – meaning an average of 4-5 died a day.’ Those who died by public execution were unburied for days on end, and ‘their bodies were placed out on a field for all to see.’

There were often so many dead bodies that separate cremation facilities were built to burn the bodies. In 1998, an ex-inmate said that the bodies were transported by automobiles and another one released in 2010 said ‘a logging cart was used to transport up to 20 bodies at a time per hour and at the end we had to carry the bodies on our shoulders.’ Despite the high numbers of deaths, families are never notified.

Kim Sang-hun said that ‘this book will be submitted to the UNHCR to publicize the brutal reality of human rights conditions in North Korea’ and that North Korea must close down all the gulags as soon as possible.

Comments from Daum:


Jongpuk MPs must miss these people and this place. Let’s send Lim Su-kyung and Lee Seok-ki back so that they can rejoin them to their hearts’ content.


To those who argue that we ought to keep our mouth shut for fear of making things worse, do you think the Allied Forces just sat idly by and watched the Jews being massacred for fear of making things worse? Don’t shit out of your head and try to think, you zombies, m’kay?


Chosun, you people make me vomit. Praising the Japanese imperialists all the way down to beautifying Chon Doo-hwan, you guys were the vanguard of all these abuses, just close yourself down. Has the Chosun Ilbo ever taken any interest in South Korean human rights issues? This is such an outrage. I am all for uncovering North Korean human rights abuse but tell us what to do about it, you morons.


To those who shed tears watching Schindler’s List, now that you’re confronted with reality are you just going to turn your heads and ignore it? You fucking bastards, are you guys even human? You people are worse than animals.


Those who refuse to support the withdrawl of the USKF, they’re the true traitors. They don’t even deserve brainwashing….


This society is going crazy… the Chosun Ilbo is going nuts and all the conservative alba are calling everyone jongpuk and commies…. the Chosun Ilbo cannot survive without North Korea, surely not…. Says ‘so and so said so, or maybe not’ and that will do for their media report……….


This is the inconvenient truth that a decade of left-wing administrations wanted to hide… Such a disgusting government they were. Never should we allow the left-wing to hold power again.


Chosun Ilbo of course, they are so wise on the North Korean situation… ^^ But then their domestic and international coverage is nothing but bold-faced lies and manipulation…..


What, the people’s hero Park Chung-hee said ‘the talk of human rights in a poor country is empty talk’, isn’t that what he said???


Fuck off, our own prisons were more or less like that a few years ago. In many ways, North and South Korean human rights abuses are pretty much the same…


Haechan: Raising human rights issues against North Korea is an act of domestic interference. Pro-North Koreans parrot each other about this domestic interference issue all the time…


This is the heaven on earth that Lee Suk-gi, Lim Soo-kyung and Kim Jae-yon speak of.


The sight that is dear to the loserish Jongpuk folks in South Korea.


If this is true at all… do not send North Korea anything. Don’t even talk about it. Never at all.


Never in our history has such an astrocity been committed. During the Joseon period, or the Samchung Reducation Facility [punishment from the 1980s that sent all criminals, mafia, alcoholics etc to boot camp] 30 years ago, nothing insane like that. How could they be so cruel to one’s own people?


The same folks who led human rights abuse are now talking incessantly about human rights abuse in North Korea. Grow a conscience before doing anything

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  • Brett Sanbon

    Could South Korean netizens not guess that this is what goes on in NK? I havent read many first person accounts but from the ones I have read, the camps are all about brutal torture and worse-than-slave-like conditions.

    Entertaining novel for anyone who is interested: The Orphan Master’s Son- Adam Johnson ~ I couldnt put it down!^^

  • Matt

    “One defector recalled that a woman allegedly carrying a Chinese baby was subjected to genital burning so as to be able to conceive again.”

    Erm….huh? I’m not sure I understand the biology behind this…

    • Brett Sanbon

      I think the author left out a “not”.

      “…so as to not be able to conceive again.”

  • Lee

    When Whitey Jews are being exterminated it’s a holocaust crimes against humanity… but our own countrymen endure such horror we engineer the ‘Sunshine Policy’ to appease them, we send them food aid, we offer them economic aid. In return they do nothing and using our aid build nuclear arsenal and every week threaten to burn us to dirt. Then these North Korean madmen invited to all international sport events. During Apartheid era South African sports team cannot participate anywhere in world for just committing economic crime… but North Korean insane crimes against humanity they receive aid and ‘engagement’. Utterly disgusted.

    • Brett Sanbon

      “Whitey Jews”…. Really Lee?

  • Scott

    “‘I don’t want to be critical of this country (ROK),’ Shin (the sole escapee from a total-control DKP camp) told me on the day we met, ‘but I would say that out of the total population of South Korea, only .001 per cent has any real interest in North Korea. Their way of living does not allow them to think about things beyond their borders. There is nothing in it for them.'” pp. 196-197, Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden, 2012, Mantle, UK.

  • Ruaraidh

    There’s nothing much you can really say about something like this. I wonder why China doesn’t just pull the plug, they’d be economically better off with a unified Korea. It’s a fucking disgrace for China more than anyone, the Kims have gone way too far to turn back now, but the Chinese government could probably bring it to an end pretty quickly if they wanted.

    • Ruaraidh

      And what’s it all for really? I know some North Korean leaders have been educated in the west, having lived here do they really think North Korea can last? Do the Chinese? The writing is on the wall and all this madness and horror does is delay the end at tiny bit, to make a little more time for for a lot more horror and barbarity.

    • Scott

      You “wonder why China doesn’t just pull the plug”? Why do you suppose the Party in China has any control over the DKP (which even voted against China holding the 2010 Olympiad)? Why do you suppose the Party in China has a moral obligation to the people of North Korea, or any country’s people other than their own? That Party sure hasn’t shown any moral obligation, not anywhere near, say, America’s involvement in Kosovo. And, China would “be economically better off with unified Korea”?! On the contrary, the fall of North Korea would make a tidal wave of refugees towards the nearest border – China – and create a vacuum to be occupied by a unified Korea not in China’s favor. China’s bordering allies are – who? The ‘stans of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan? Laos? Really? The only bordering states even remotely inclined towards China are Pakistan (solely because of India) and up to now Myanmar which military party’s future is doubtful.

      • Scott

        Corrigendum: 2008 Olympiad.

      • Justin_C

        fascinating…. yes, there are lots of ‘theories’ on why the CPP continues to support NK despite all the backhands and the growing list of ‘revolts’ (battered wife syndrome???). to be really honest, i am not sure if there is even any consensus within the Politburo with regard to NK, but it may be just on status-quo thing – from what I have heard from chinese pol-sci people, NK is really just a liability right now….

      • Ruaraidh

        You’re deluded if you think China isn’t a massive crutch to the government of North Korea. As for the often repeated idea about millions of North Koreans flooding into China, there are already tens of thousands fleeing to China and that’s at the conservative end of the range of estimations. Do you really think they’d rather be there than South Korea? If reunification with a rich neighbor causes a mass refugee exodus to a third country why didn’t millions of East Germans flee to Russia?

        South Korea is China’s 4th largest trade partner, North Korea is China’s 82nd largest trade partner. China WOULD be economically better off with a unified Korea under a liberal economic system, you can’t legitimately deny the fact.

        • Scott

          Yes, China is a massive crutch to the government of North Korea, there is no doubt, but that is not your argument. You insist that China can “pull the plug” and the DKP will collapse, but seemingly cannot understand why a) China, bereft of allies on its borders and rightly expecting the following government will not be sympathetic in any way towards China (do you appreciate Korea’s view of where the Sino-Korean border should lay?) doesn’t favour any regime change, b) doesn’t want a flood of refugees – now held in check by the DKP – pouring into Northeast China (the example of East Germany is facetious), c) surely has no inkling of moral compulsion to change a regime that if not always sympathetic at least is reliant on China.

          You further insist China “would be better off economically with a unified Korea under a liberal economic system” even as the PRC itself does not follow a liberal economic system but controls major markets and loans to ensure the Party’s state-owned-enterprises (SOE) predominance in all respects; the SOE’s “received more than 95 percent of the stimulus monies lent out in 2008–09 and an estimated 85 percent in 2010”, and executives are measured by political not economic yardsticks.

          Assuming that China’s Party is more motivated by economic than political concerns proves you know even less about China than Korea.

  • 바나나

    damn that’s fucked up son
    worse than Kony

  • Chris

    somebody needs to put Kim Jong Un on maury povich or something. set that kid straight.

  • glenn

    If they don’t/can’t treat the regular NK citizens well, why would you expect that they’d do it for those at the camps who are considered as traitors.

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