by John Hawkins | January 15, 2003 9:25 pm
The North Korean Gulag Nightmare: As a general rule I tend to be pretty jaded about man’s inhumanity to man. Not that I don’t care, but I’ve already ready about every bit of cruelty and barbarism you can imagine. But, even I was sickened when I read about what’s going on in the gulags of North Korea…
“”IT’S ONE of the worst, if not the worst situation – human rights abuse situation – in the world today,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who held hearings on the camps last year. “There are very few places that could compete with the level of depravity, the harshness of this regime in North Korea toward its own people.”
…”All of North Korea is a gulag,” said one senior U.S. official, noting that as many as 2 million people have died of starvation while Kim has amassed the world’s largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons. “It’s just that these people [in the camps] are treated the worst. No one knows for sure how many people are in the camps, but 200,000 is consistent with our best guess.
…Kang Chol-Hwan is now a journalist with Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s most important newspaper. His recent book, “The Aquariums of Pyongyang,” is the first memoir of a North Korean political prisoner. For nearly a decade, he was imprisoned because his grandfather had made complimentary statements about Japanese capitalism. He was a 9-year-old when he arrived at the Yodok camp. His grandfather was never seen again, and prison conditions killed his father.
…Soon Ok Lee, imprisoned for seven years at a camp near Kaechon in Pyungbuk province, described how the female relatives of male prisoners were treated. “I was in prison from 1987 till January 1993,” she told NBC News in Seoul, where she now lives. “[The women] were forced to abort their children. They put salty water into the pregnant women’s womb with a large syringe, in order to kill the baby even when the woman was 8 months or 9 months pregnant.
…”And then, from time to time there a living infant is delivered. And then if someone delivers a live infant, then the guards kick the bloody baby and kill it. And I saw an infant who was crying with pain. I have to express this in words, that I witnessed such an inhumane hell.”
… “I saw so many poor victims,” she said. “Hundreds of people became victims of biochemical testing. I was imprisoned in 1987 and during the years of 1988 through ’93, when I was released, I saw the research supervisors – they were enjoying the effect of biochemical weapons, effective beyond their expectations – they were saying they were successful.”
She tearfully described how in one instance about 50 inmates were taken to an auditorium and given a piece of boiled cabbage to eat. Within a half hour, they began vomiting blood and quickly died.
…Prison guard Ahn’s memories are, like the others’, nothing short of gruesome. Every day, he said there were beatings and deaths.
“I heard many times that eyeballs were taken out by beating,” he recalled. “And I saw that by beating the person the muscle was damaged and the bone was exposed, outside, and they put salt on the wounded part. At the beginning I was frightened when I witnessed it, but it was repeated again and again, so my feelings were paralyzed.”
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