Category Archives: Prison Camp
Global Festa Japan 2016 was held at Odaiba in Tokyo on October 1st and 2nd. This annual event was jointly hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and several other Japanese governmental organizations. The major purpose of the festival, an International Cooperation Day, is to promote awareness of the need for the international cooperation and the importance of joint efforts between the governmental and citizen groups, as well as NGOs. During the two-day event, 269 organizations and groups participated and about 100,000 people visited.
Refugee Tells Her Story
On Feb. sixth and seventh LFNKR participated in the One World Festival held in Osaka, Japan to help boost the public’s awareness of the many human rights abuses that continue in North Korea.
At the yearly One World Festival, NGO/NPOs, international institutions, local administration and companies involved in international cooperation gather together to tell about their activities, and to hold symposia and panel discussions on such issues as peace, human rights and the environment.
The following is a brief summary of the report prepared by Mr. K.G., a member of LFNKR. It describes the testimony presented by Ms. Koh Jeong Mee, a former NK defector.
LFNKR On Dec. 5, jointly hosted a seminar as one of the events held during the first week of December to help promote public awareness of the North Korean human rights issue. The seminar was titled “Terror of Whistle Blowers in a Solitary Confinement Cell.” To emphasize what it was really like, LFNKR specially created two full-size punishment cells not just for display but also to give participants the experience of being in the cages.
We invited Mr. Jeong Kwang-il, who has experienced being locked up in one of the punishment cells, to talk about the confinement and one of the tortures called “pigeon torture.” In the pigeon torture, a person’s hands are tied behind their back and handcuffed so that they can neither stand nor sit.
Mr. Jeong Kwang-il is Director of No Chains for North Korea and the Director of Human Rights Investigations for North Korea Watch. He was confined in Yodok Concentration Camp, one of North Korea’s most notorious camps.
Many North Koreans are tortured and sent to the concentration camps without trial, just as Mr. Jeong was.
Infamous Prison Camps
Prison Camp Getting a Face Lift
It appears that North Korea may be instituting a new prison reform – in its own strange way.
Reports filtering out of North Korea suggest that political prisoners are secretly being smuggled out of the notorious Yodok prison camp in North Hamgyeong Province, and transferred to other camps under cover of darkness, so that their movements cannot be tracked by satellite cameras.
Recruiting Volunteers To Expand Film Screenings
A German director has made a documentary film depicting the harrowing life of a young man who was born and raised in a North Korean political prison camp, and is currently living in South Korea after defecting from North Korea.
North Korea: What it says about you and me
When I was twelve, simply another angst-stricken, preteen lost soul, I discovered the concentration camps of North Korea and the inhumanity of the regime and have carried the grievous burden of having this knowledge and desperately wanting to help but having no way of knowing how or even where to start. Perhaps the most painful lesson of all to learn was that few listen and few care. The first time a child’s pleas for something unselfish are disregarded is the instant in which their innocence is torn away and they become aware of what our world has come to.
Escapee Shin Don-hyuk talks about prison
CNN, in a taped interview, talked with escaped North Korean work camp prisoner, Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin’s life began in near-hopeless circumstances in a NK prison camp. His parents, already interned there, were allowed a “reward marriage” for obedient behavior, but that didn’t last. Shin tells how, at age 14, he witnessed his mother and brother being executed. View part of the interview here.
Many Stories of Wanton Cruelty
Last month, LFNKR published the Japanese-language version of the book ‘Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So’ for release in Japan. This book contains facts, information and stories from interviews with 8,934 North Korean defectors, including 81 who had been detained at Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So, more commonly known as the “Death Camp”. Many of the stories include horrifying colored sketches drawn by a few of the former detainees at the Death Camp.
She Says this Website Started it All
Yesterday we received a warm and inspiring email from a lady, Mrs. Linda Dye, in the US, who read a story on this website back in 2007 and did something unusual. She and her husband decided they wanted to do more than just read about North Korean Refugees. They were so inspired, they made up their minds to get personally involved and make a difference.
Author, Blaine Harden (Viking Press)
Review by David Calleja
Escape From Camp 14 begins with a statement by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of North Korea’s regime. It reads, ‘There is no “human rights issue” in this country, as everyone leads the most dignified and happy life’. According to the government then, Shin Dong-hyuk’s astounding memoirs of survival in the country’s most notorious political prison read as little more than a fairytale.
North Korea’s Infamous Prison Camp 22
A special report titled “North Korea’s Camp No. 22“ was released last week by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. The report was compiled in collaboration with DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions.
News Leaks from North Korea
To celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s first leader, a general amnesty has been declared, and 3,740 prisoners released. Although a few political prisoners were reportedly included, no specific number or names have been disclosed.
Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So
On February 5, LFNKR hosted a seminar during One World Festival, an annual event held in Osaka, Japan. For the seminar this year, LFNKR invited Mr. Sung-hun Kim, the chief of Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) and three North Korean defectors who have resettled in South Korea. Each of the three defectors has experienced the nightmare of North Korea’s Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So, a camp well known for its high death rate.
Mourn Instead for his Victims
On Dec. 28 in Pyongyang a funeral will be held for Kim Jong-il. As do most of those involved in the North Korean human rights issue, we at LFNKR strongly feel that this funeral should commemorate the victims of Kim Jong-il and his brutal regime. We call upon the world – mourn not for this dead dictator.
Speakers included: Willy Fautre (Human Rights without Frontiers, President); Vincent Brossel (Reporters without Borders); David Hawk (human rights investigator and advocate and author of “the Hidden Gulag”); Chuck Downs (US Committee for NK HR); and Hiroshi Kato (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees).
Text of Kato Hiroshi’s Speech
It is my privilege and honor to present this speech here at the North Korean Human Rights Campaign 2008
Our main purposes at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are: first, to provide humanitarian aid and protect the human rights of North Korea defectors in China and Southeast Asia; and second, to reach out to people in North Korea with food and medicine.
Out of 100,000 North Korean refugees hiding out in Northeastern China, about 70-100 are under LFNKR’s protection as of July 2008.
In my opinion, the worst form of human rights violation is human trafficking. The number of human trafficking victims is not yet clearly known, but we estimate the number to be more than 70% of all defectors. An investigation conducted in the villages where our shelters are located showed that 10-20% of all villagers are North Korean women who have been sold to Chinese men in the village. Out of 60,000-70,000 women defectors, at least half are of childbearing age.
Babies between Han Chinese and ethnic Koreans will reach 30,000-35,000, most of whom are unregistered.
The youngest victim of human trafficking I have met was 8 years old at the time she was sold. She was brought up in an ethnic Korean family in Heilong City, Jilin Province, but was sold for 1,500 RMB to an ethnic Chinese man at the age of fourteen. She gave birth at the age of 19. After the baby was born, she was sold again by a broker to a different man, and unfortunately I do not know where she is now. Girls being sold by a broker after childbirth are now very common to see.
The price of women varies: usually 5,000-10,000 RMB (approximately $500-1,000 US dollars), for girls up to the age of 20; 3,000-5,000 RMB (or $300-500 US dollars), for up to the age of 30; 2,000-2,500 RMB ($200-250 USD) for up to the age of 40 with a child; and 500-1,000 RMB (or $50-100 US dollars) for children.
However, this year, the price has increased. A woman in her 20s is sold at the price of 20,000 RMB because the number of female North Korean defectors is decreasing. North Korean women seem hesitant to escape the country due to the crackdown operation for the security of the Beijing Olympic Games, as well as forced repatriation that entails serious threats to life upon being returned to North Korea.
The trafficking of North Korean women goes back to 1985 when it was not yet as systematic. It was mere match-making organized by a broker for a rural Chinese man who could not marry in an orthodox way. At that time, the Chinese government welcomed them, and there was neither arrest nor forced repatriation. (But this has now become an organized business-like activity.)
Young women from three provinces in Northeast China that were excluded from China’s open economy reform policy started to move to the Southern China Economic Zone, Japan and Korea to find work. As a result, the female population in these rural areas has decreased considerably. The demand for North Korean women naturally became greater. The role of young North Korean women in replacing ethnic Chinese women was considered significant. The brokers taking advantage of the situation started to appear during this time and it became more organized and business-like.
In the late 1990s, the food rationing system of North Korea collapsed.
North Koreans seeking food started to escape to China, and from 1997 there was a massive influx of people from North Korea into China.
Ethnic Koreans in China provided their starving brethren with food and clothing. However, due to some people trying to take advantage of the goodwill of these ethnic Chinese, and an increased crime rate, the Chinese government started to strengthen the policy concerning North Korea defectors.
In 2000, trafficking of North Korean women became more serious. More women had risked their lives escaping to China and fell into the clutches of brokers. The reports made by staff members in charge of our shelters outlines many of these cases.
The Chinese police, in secret communication with the North Korean National Security Agency, has prosecuted these women who are illegally married to rural Chinese men. If a woman who had a child at the time of marriage is prosecuted, then the child no longer receives any protection and becomes an orphan. The child usually survives by helping with farming, taking care of cows in return for room and board.
The children of North Korean women sold to Chinese men face a bleak future. An infant can choose neither his or her own country nor parents. A mother has no choice but to sell herself.
Because the stay of these women is illegal their children are also stateless. They are not Chinese and not North Koreans either. They have no right to education or anything else. They have no human rights and are staying illegally. These children are languishing in extreme poverty.
Early last year, the mother of 5-year-old Kim Yong-soon was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. Her crime? Leaving the starvation in North Korea and seeking survival in China.
But once this young woman had escaped North Korea six years ago, she was quickly sold into a forced marriage to a Chinese man, and just as quickly became pregnant. This is how she came to give birth to daughter Kim Yong-soon. The daughter, Yong-soon is now being supported under LFNKR’s foster parent program.
Our people, the LFNKR local staff in China, reported to us that it will be impossible for her to return again, since this is her third repatriation.
You know, you have to wonder why it is that Chinese government policies show no mercy to families. They callously tear them apart, separating mothers and children with no regard to human feeling.
In Yanji, Longjin, and other cities near the border between China and North Korea, the two countries have intensified their joint crackdown.
North Korean authorities provide Chinese security police with information on North Korean defectors, and the Chinese police follow up relentlessly. These police personnel are highly motivated — their government is paying high bounties. For each North Korean refugee they arrest, someone puts 2,000 RMB in their pocket. That bounty payment equals the monthly salary of most university graduates in China.
Over the years, human rights NGOs, International organizations and foreign governments have made numerous appeals. They have asked the government of China about this issue of North Korean defectors in China.
The Chinese government has ignored these appeals. In fact, they have never bothered to respond at all, and meanwhile they continue to forcibly return North Korean refugees to face the certainty of brutal persecution in North Korea. This is an obvious and blatant defiance of humanitarianism. The Chinese government clearly has no interest in what the international community thinks.
UNHCR’s appeals to the government of China are always ignored. Beijing has also ignored the appeals of the South Korean government on behalf of aid workers arrested for helping North Korean refugees.
The two lessons to be learned from past incidents are these: first, China responds only to a strong show of force. And second, the last thing that works with the Chinese government is an appeal to humanitarian consideration. China is submissive to the stronger, but shows no mercy to the weaker.
The North Korean defectors are in a position of strength when they are in the custody of foreign embassies and weak if they are outside the custody of a strong power.
I now publicly issue a call to all South Korean activists and North Korean defectors. From this moment forward, I urge you to direct your efforts to collecting evidence, testimony and information that provides full details for the international community in general and the UN Special Rapporteur, in particular.
In addition, we all should take this occasion to acknowledge, with profound thanks, all the efforts that have led to successfully exposing North Korean Crimes against Humanity. We can be proud of the widespread call for justice that was demonstrated by the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in the US Congress, the series of resolutions adopted by the UN, among many others, and the resolution on human rights in DPRK, which the UN General Assembly approved last December.
As a next step, I would like to see the UN Security Council raise the issue of creating an International human rights investigation team to be dispatched to North Korea. I do recognize, however, that the chances of that happening are quite slim with Russia and China on the Council. They are very likely to block any such efforts.
Since North Korea’s crimes are of the most serious nature, we cannot just stop here. I suggest that we approach the International Criminal Court by presenting hard evidence, verified information and solid proof. Obtaining this kind of evidence and proof from inside North Korea is definitely a realistic possibility because, in recent years, many North Korean officials have grown increasingly demoralized as they face mounting personal danger in the ongoing power struggles.
We should redouble our efforts now toward obtaining undeniable and credible information from inside North Korea — information that is so strong and so convincing that it must be taken to the International Criminal Court.
In closing my speech today, and with your permission, I wish to personally call upon the entire international community to intervene decisively in the North Korean situation. It is a matter of international responsibility — clearly so.
Let us, therefore, create a living reality that some day all innocent North Korean prisoners, as well as all South Korean and Japanese abductees, will know for a fact that they were never for a single moment forgotten by the people of the world.
US State Dept. too Soft on Kim Jong Il?
United States Senator Sam Brownback (R. Kansas), a long-time champion of North Korean refugees and their human rights, gave an impassioned speech from the Senate floor outlining his reasons for putting a hold on the nomination of Kathleen Stephens as ambassador to South Korea.
Special Report on Events in Japan
The second annual North Korean Human Rights Public Awareness Week took place during Dec. 10th through 16th, 2007, as set forth in Japan’s “North Korean Human Rights Act,” which was enacted in June 2006. The many events held included government-hosted events, as well as international conferences and symposiums.
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, NGO
The crackdown on North Korean refugees by both the Chinese and North Korean governments has drastically cut the flow of North Koreans into China, reducing it to levels below those of the past decade. China’s official position is that North Korean refugees do not exist, a stance that blatantly ignores international law, including the Convention on the Status of Refugees, to which it is a signatory nation.
My Family Background
My North Korean name is Shin In-kun (South Korean name: Shin Dong-hyuk). I was born on 19 November 1982. I was a political prisoner at birth in North Korea.
According to what I know from my father, Shin Kyong-sop, he was born in 1946 in the village of Yongjung-ni in Mundok District, South Pyongan Province, near Pyongyang, North Korea. He was the 11th of 12 brothers. It was in 1965, when he was only 19 years old, that great tragedy struck his family.
Translation of Letter from Young Refugee
The following letter was sent to us by human rights activist Sin-U Nam, who received it by email. He says:
I read a terrible story on the Korean websites last night. This is a story of a boy from North Korea, now hiding inside China somewhere. I have read many stories of the NK refugees, but this may be the worst. It made me physically sick.
Kim Jong Il Retaliates Against Family Members of Public Accuser
FROM: The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea, A Japanese NGO
1. Six North Korean refugees
Six North Korean refugees who escaped from North Korea and were arrested in Shanghai, China were deported to North Korea. The six, who are in mortal danger, are the elder son, the second son and a niece of Mrs. Shin Jung Ae, as well as the second son’s wife and two children.
In late July 2004, LFNKR donated paper-bound copies of the book, Are They Telling The Truth? Brutality Beyond Belief, to the national libraries of several nations in North America, Europe and Asia. The book is a collection of heart-rending accounts from NK prison camp survivors.
NK Family Flees with Documented Proof
Television viewers were shocked on February first this year when BBC aired a documentary on North Korea. Among the more horrifying facts revealed by the show, titled “Access to Evil,” was the growing eye-witness evidence that North Korea conducts biological human testing in its highly secretive prison camps.
Some of this evidence has been gathered by Mr. Kim Sang hun, a former UN official and now a human rights activist, who was interviewed for the documentary.
More European officials questioning North Korea
Earlier this month, a BBC documentary revealed strong evidence that North Korea is running chemical and biological experiments on political prisoners and their entire families.
Mr. Kato Hiroshi, secretary-general of our organization, together with Mr. Sang Hun Kim, Korean human rights activist, flew to Europe to meet with UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, as well as NGO officials and parliamentary members in a number of countries. The purpose of the trip was to explore greater European involvement in and support for an end to Chinese maltreatment and repatriation of North Korean refugees.
Interviews with Survivors, Former Guards
The world was shocked on February first 2004, when BBC ran an hour-long feature clearly documenting North Korea’s biological experimentation on political prisoners in the highly secretive camps. Such stories are not new, however.
For more than ten years, a group of human rights activists have been working with newly-defected North Koreans, interviewing and collecting stories. Stories that “normal people” in the civilized world could scarcely believe.