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:
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