New Satellite Images Reveal North Korea’s Brutal Concentration Camps

Since Kim Jong-un took over his deceased father’s role as North Korea’s leader five years ago, geopolitical observers have wondered whether he would continue a policy of antagonizing the West and routinely violating human rights.

Sadly, though there may have been a brief moment when it appeared Kim Jong-un might seek to embark on a new path, reversing his despotic predecessor’s actions, it has become clear that, if anything, he is accelerating his father’s programs.

Western news outlets regularly focus on North Korea’s apparently expanding nuclear weapons program and the nation’s periodic threats directed at its neighbors and the United States. But that is just one aspect of Kim Jong-un’s reign — though much of what’s known about North Korea’s weapons continues to be speculation, what’s known about its human rights abuses are comparatively concrete.

According to a new report from a group that monitors rights abuses in the isolated Asian country, Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), recent satellite images reveal some new details about North Korea’s concentration camps (also known as Kwan-li-so prisons).

Though North Korea, unsurprisingly, has never admitted the existence of these facilities, new images clearly show the layout of the infamous, northern coast-based Camp No. 25.

HRNK analysts say Camp No. 25 underwent a massive expansion before Kim Jong-Il’s death, to now support nearly twice its prior prison population. Greg Scarlatou, NRNK’s executive director, says new images show that the camp is apparently being utilized in full, in a sense “confirm[ing] the sustained, if not increased importance of the use of forced labor under Kim Jong-un.”

Amnesty International has also recently released a report focusing on North Korea’s prison camps. It explains that nearly 120,000 Koreans — men, women and even children — are currently being in held in places like Camp No. 25. NRNK estimates that its prisoner population is near 5,000.

Accounts from escapees detail the horrific conditions endured there. Forced labor is commonplace; for those who do not meet the often impossible quotas assigned them, punishments in the form of torture, rape and intentional starvation are standard.

Infanticide and executions are also prevalent; most camps appear to have on-site crematoriums to accommodate this practice.

How do North Koreans end up in these concentration camps? More often than not, prisoners have committed no crime — rather, they are often connected in often tenuous ways to individuals accused of anti-government or subversive activities. In other words, they are incarcerated due to guilt by association.

Though the international community may believe it is unaffected by these atrocities, instead focusing on North Korea’s nuclear development, it is not something the world can turn a blind eye toward.

The United Nations was founded specifically in response to the horrors of the Holocaust. Nuclear arms control cannot be its sole concern when it comes to North Korea. But that seems to be at the core of their policy toward the Hermit Kingdom, as evidenced by a recent resolution to impose strict new sanctions banning exports of minerals including copper and nickel.

North Korea has spent nearly half a century utilizing these concentration camps. Estimates put the number of people killed in these places at hundreds of thousands — this is very much a modern-day Holocaust.

Photo Credit: Human Rights in North Korea

92 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y9 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y9 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago

noted.thanks

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Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Deborah W
Deborah W2 years ago

This Christmas Season combine your energy with other like-mindeds toward the homeless, the Aleppo genocide victims, refugees fleeing terrorists, along with the victim souls held in these encampments. So much to pray for -- as well as recount our own blessings, small and large, that present daily and are often overlooked.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 years ago

Horrid.

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Karin Geens
Karin Geens2 years ago

Horrible

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