Stories of Brutality
Through Hell with
My Two Little Girls
I am a North Korean woman and will turn 40
years old in 2005.
I completed my high school education in 1980
and proceeded to
join the army as a career path to Workers’ Party membership.
I served in the army anti-aircraft unit in Pyongyang for approximately
7 years, from August 1980 to January of 1987.
I was a senior
official at a local district People’s Committee for about
five years and a supervisor of a factory’s inventory for
a period of 10 years, April, 1987 to May of 1997.
I was married
to a driver in 1988 and I have two girls from this marriage.
I was divorced in 1997.
My Baby Boy Dismembered in a North Korean Prison
In 1995, due to my inability to fully support
my family as a factory inventory supervisor, I was engaged in
i.e. selling Chinese shoes in the local North Korean market.
I was cautioned against engaging in capitalist activities as
a Party member. However, at the time the stark realities of
survival caused me to cast such caution to the wind.
May 1995, I was arrested by the local police and
sentenced to serve a six-month prison term at a minimum security
Pyongsong city, North Pyongan Province.
I was already six
months pregnant at that time, but the prison officials showed
regard for pregnant women. The work in the prison was extremely
strenuous and we prisoners had to run barefoot while carrying
heavy bundles of straw, for example. Pregnancy did not
exempt a woman from hard work.
Two months into my prison term, my water bag suddenly broke
and early labor pains forced me to take a squatting position.
I was about to deliver a baby!
Prison officials brought me into
a simple prison clinic and by that time, both of the baby’s
legs were emerging from the birth canal. I fell unconscious at
this point and remained so for perhaps 20 hours.
When I awoke I found myself still on the same operating table. Under my
bed, I noticed an object covered with cloth with only a baby’s
head visible. I removed the cloth, and to my utter horror and
shock, found a baby boy dismembered, lying in many pieces.
shock, I shrieked as I stared at the nightmarish sight before
me. The baby’s remains were then immediately removed to
an unknown location.
There were approximately 30 pregnant women in the room, including some 10 women expecting their babies
at any time.
During the three days I was in this ward, I saw
separate cases of babies choked to death at birth, carried
out by members of a group of eight to 10 prison guards. Throughout
this ghoulish ordeal, women could be heard wailing uncontrollably
behind curtains surrounding their beds.
The guards carried
the tiny corpses in dirty gunnysacks. I was in such a
poor health and my lips were so badly bitten that I was unable
water for days.
Although I am unable to disclose the
source for protection, reliable information in the prison at
me that babies poisoned and delivered were then eviscerated.
The remaining meat was then dehydrated and ground to
be served with wine to prison officials.
My Cousin Publicly Executed for Reading the Bible
In October 1998, at a small family party that marked the first
birthday of my mother since her passing, I remarked to
my close friends, “Who cares who becomes the nation’s
leader? I simply want unification as soon as possible. That’s
I was arrested by the State Security Agency
(SSA) for this remark, but was separately and severely
for receiving a Bible from my farmer cousin, Kim Yong-sam,
who himself had been arrested for reading a copy of the
In fact, he had received three Bibles from China
late into the night. His wife informed the authorities
of his secret Bible studies. Under torture, he confessed
that he gave
me one of the Bibles.
My limbs were lashed together and I was hung by my hands from
the ceiling for three days. I was ruthlessly beaten with a square
stick over my entire body.
This took place in the depth of North
Korea’s winter days. Sometimes, interrogators splashed
icy water over my cold body and the door to the outside was left
open to expose me to the piercing wind.
I urinated while suspended and could feel blood running from my head down my back from
the beating. My thighs swelled to the size of big logs and my
were unbearably painful.
They fed me such dirty food that,
at times, I could not bear to eat. The coarse corn gruel made
vomit and sand settled to the bottom of the soup bowls. I
stopped drinking and eating for nearly a week as a protest to
Because they needed information from me, they forced
my mouth open by placing a block of wood between my teeth and
enabling them to pour rice soup into my mouth.
male guards stripped me to the skin and put me into a punishment
for two weeks. The chamber was so small that I was unable
to stand or stretch myself. I was only able to squat down over
small hole in the floor that caught my urination and feces.
The walls were laced with pieces of sharp, jagged metal that
prevented me from leaning against the wall.
I was confronted
with my cousin several times for the purpose of cross checking.
He was in such miserable shape that I failed to recognize
him at first glance. Both his legs were broken and his fingers
no fingernails. He was so severely injured and weak that
he could barely speak.
In December of the same year, he was publicly
on a hillside near the farm cooperative in Yanghwa-ri, Sinpo
City, South Hamkyong Province.
When I was released from the
punishment chamber after two weeks, I was simply unable to walk
days. I was eventually released after 30 days on the condition
that I would report immediately any sighting of another man
who had remarked in the same party “I could do better than
certificates from South Korea [attached
to original document] confirm cerebral concussion
from external impact and kneecaps seriously wounded)
First Defection to China with my Two Little Girls
By this time I had become so disillusioned by the dehumanizing
treatment inflicted on North Korean prisoners that, within a
few days of my release, I ran away with my two little girls,
14 and 11 years old respectively, to a border town in an attempt
to defect to China.
On a very cold winter day in early January,
1999 I managed to cross the Sino-North Korean border
with my two daughters. We walked the snow-covered mountains at
for a month until reaching the city of Jilin, the capital
of the Chinese province by the same name on 25 March 1999.
we had survived such a horrible ordeal was nothing
short of a
In early June in the same year, 1999, I crossed the Sino-Vietnamese
border with my daughters in an effort to leave China for South
Korea. In this crossing, we were detected and bitten by Vietnamese
guard dogs, then were put under arrest by border guards.
two months of detention in Vietnam, we were released
and managed to cross back to China. Following our return to China,
in either a makeshift mountain shelter or at times under a
to North Korea by Chinese Authorities.
It was our great misfortune that my two girls and I were arrested
on 10 July 2002 and sent to the Chinese border prison in the
city of Tumen. There we were interrogated for about a week before
being repatriated to North Korea.
Upon arrival in North Korea,
we were stripped completely naked for observation by
women guards, including the unspeakably intrusive examination
of anus and vagina
in search for hidden money.
My little 14 and 11 year-old
girls did not escape this outrage. We were detained
by the Onsong district
State Security Agency (SSA) for 15 days, during which
time I observed more than 10 prisoner deaths at the hands of
I Attended the Killing of Six Babies at Delivery
Following the abovementioned period, we were ordered to the
Onsong District Labor Training Camp, Ontan District, Onsong Kunup,
for a full month.
In addition to the usual brutal treatment of
prisoners, baby killings were also practiced here.
The camp had two large rooms for prisoners, one for men and
the other one
for women. Baby killings took place at the women’s room
during the daylight hours when all the women were working outside.
At times when women returned from work to their quarters, some
pregnant women were still in labor. At these times,
the female prison workers were sent into the men’s room until all
remaining babies were delivered and killed.
Prisoners could hear the groaning voices of
the mothers, and babies crying from the next room. Some workers
secretly stole glimpses of the
through a small window, 30 x 30 cm.
One day, I had such severe headaches from previous head wounds
sustained in the prison that I was excused from work and allowed
to stay in the men’s room with small children while all
other prisoners, both men and women, were at work outside.
after lunch, I was asked to come to the women’s room and
help the camp’s woman officer, referred to as “SSA
aunt” by some prisoners, and whose real name was something
to the effect of Kim Ok-sun.
As I entered the women’s quarters,
I found six women in labor, lying down and stripped from the
A baby boy had just been born alive and the doctor
was holding the baby, still crying, upside down. Her
hands were wrapped with a vinyl sheet and were full of blood.
The camp doctor
needed someone to help administer an intravenous injection
of 5% dextrose to the mother.
Obviously, the patient had somehow
managed to pay for this ‘luxury’.
I used my brassiere
to tie her wrist and then inserted needle into her
vein with neither sterilization nor a piece of adhesive tape
to hold the
needle in place.
That afternoon, I learned from the
women in the room that the woman doctor had inserted plastic
containing light blue liquid into the women’s vaginas.
Some six hours later, women began to groan with pain and began
to deliver the babies, one by one. I attended the
delivery of six babies that afternoon, amidst great crying and
six babies that day were born alive and were boys.
Some women took longer than others and their babies were delivered
evening. The dark room was illuminated with a kerosene
lamp and every one in the room had a blackened nose from the
The babies, all choked to death, were wrapped
up in cloth and left on the floor for hours before they were
removed to an
All the women who had delivered
the babies were also taken to an unknown location by the
local police after
their deliveries. We prisoners did not know what
their fate was to be. Some prisoners believed that they were
I Was Hit by a Sword
Following this episode, I was sent to the provincial police
detention camp. There I was detained for about a
month until police from my hometown arrived to claim us.
day at this
detention camp, I was tasked with drawing water
from a deep well using a wooden bucket that was already very
A guard was
very angry because I was not fast enough when
drawing water. He hit my left arm with a sword, cutting my flesh.
the wound on my arm from this incident.
hometown police station, I was again subject to horrible interrogations
month before I was finally released at the end of November
2nd Defection and Arrival in South Korea
After 20 days, I went into hiding and on 6 December 2002, I
defected from North Korea for the 2nd time and
managed to enter the South Korean Embassy on 1 April 2004 and
arrived in South
Korea in September of the same year.