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Hidden North Korea

John on December 15, 2008 at 8:32 am

The Washington Post has a pretty amazing piece on secret prisons in North Korea as described by  Shin Dong-hyuk, the only man ever to escape from one:

The U.S. government and human rights groups estimate that 150,000 to 200,000 people are now being held in the North’s prison camps. Many of the camps can be seen in satellite images, but North Korea denies their existence.

In recent weeks, Shin has been watching old films of the Allied liberation of Nazi concentration camps, which included scenes of bulldozers unearthing corpses that Adolf Hitler’s collapsing Third Reich had tried to hide.

“It is just a matter of time before Kim Jong Il thinks of this,” Shin said in an interview. “I hope that the United States, through pressure and persuasion, can convince Kim not to murder all those people in the camps.”


Shin describes the “common and almost routine” savagery of the camp: the rape of his cousin by prison guards and the beating to death of a young girl found with five grains of unauthorized wheat in her pocket. He once found three kernels of corn in a pile of cow dung, he writes. He picked them out, cleaned them off on his sleeve and ate them. “As miserable as it may seem, that was my lucky day,” he writes.


Making money. Saving money. Dating. Loving another human being. These are all strange concepts that Shin has struggled — and largely failed — to understand.

“I never heard the word ‘love’ in the camp,” he said. “I want to have a girlfriend, but I don’t know how to get one. Two months ago, I found myself without any money. It suddenly occurred to me that I had to go out and support myself.”

Shin also struggles to understand why prosperous Koreans in the South seem so uninterested in and unmoved by the suffering of tens of thousands of fellow Koreans living in torment in the North’s prisons.

This is just the start. Click over and read the whole thing.

[HT: Hot Air headlines]

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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