South Korea’s Unification Ministry has released the most detailed images yet of concentration camps in North Korea — camps which officials in the country have denied existence.
The camps are estimated to hold more than 200,000 North Korean citizens, according to the Daily Mail.
Last month, Kang Chol-Hwan, a former prisoner of a Yodok, spoke with CBN News about his experience. He escaped to China in 1992 after being held captive for 10 years. Kang has written a book about the camp called The Aquariums of Pyongyang and is considered one of the first people to speak publicly about Yodok. CBN wrote that when shown satellite images of the camps, Kang didn’t like what he saw:
“The camp definitely looks bigger,” he observed. “For example, these new buildings for prison guards weren’t there before. I can only assume that means there are more prisoners being held and therefore more security is needed.”
Kang was taken to the camps with his family when he was nine years old. Kang describes the camps as a place where “even animals are treated better”:
“We had no food. We eat anything we could get our hands on — rats, snakes, frogs, insects,” he recalled. “We just had to find a way to survive.”
Watch CBN’s report:
CBN interviewed another Yodok prisoner, Jeong Kyoung-il, who spoke on his torture at the camp after he was arrested in 1999 for suspicion of spying:
While he was in the Yodok labor camp, Jeong says the prison guards performed a particular form of torture on him called the Pigeon Torture. In essence, the prisoner is hanged from the wall with his hands tied behind his back like this and he was in this position for several days.
“This happened repeatedly,’ said Jeong. “It’s like you are hanging upside down. Your muscles tense up and your chest sticks out like a bird. I thought I was going to die.”
Daily Mail notes that Amnesty International, a human rights group, compared the new images to blurry ones taken 10 years ago:
[It] confirms they are growing in size and branded them ‘hellish’.
‘The outside world certainly doesn’t know what’s going on and very little from the inside comes out,’ Sam Zarifi, from Amnesty International said last month.
‘The very little that has come out paints a very disturbing picture.’
Scott Edwards, director of the science and human rights program at Amnesty International added: ‘The fact that we would have to rely on satellite imagery just to dispel the government’s assertion that these camps don’t exist is testament really to the scale of the human travesty that might be going on inside.’
According to the Daily Mail, the Unification Ministry has said its representatives will be leaving for Pyongyang tomorrow to discuss peace and human rights and potentially meet with Kim Jon-il.