Brutal North Korean Labor Camps Hold 200K

Prisoners face 15-hour days, malnutrition, executions: Korean bar
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 20, 2009 9:44 AM CDT
A visitor looks at a collage made of pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at a unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, July 13, 2009.    (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Some 200,000 political prisoners are held in North Korean labor camps, where they work up to 15 hours a day before dying of malnutrition by about age 50, the Washington Post reports. Testimony from survivors and former guards has been newly published by the Korean Bar Association, and new satellite photos corroborate their stories. But the subject has been pushed off the table in diplomatic meetings by fears of the belligerent regime's acquiring nuclear weapons.

Prisoners subsist on corn and salt; they are forced to watch executions as “lessons”; guards are free to “beat, rape, and kill” inmates, some of whom are imprisoned on guilt by association. But South Korea appears “stuck in a deep quagmire of indifference,” the lawyers say—and “unfortunately, until we get a handle on the security threat, we can't afford to deal with human rights,” says a former US official.