North Korea uses Haengyong concentration camp, or Camp 22, to house political prisoners while they are worked to death. Prisoners and their families are detained for life, with no possible chance of parole and little hope of escape. Though the camp was supposedly closed in June this year, new satellite imagery released by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a Washington-based NGO, shows that the camp is still in operation.
HRNK’s full report is available here (pdf). Excerpted below are some of the findings as well as the most recent satellite imagery of the camp, provided by DigitalGlobe, a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery.
Based on an analysis of DigitalGlobe images from November 5, 2010, May 21, 2011, and October 11, 2012, the HRNK-DigitalGlobe report North Korea’s Camp No. 22 concludes that the imagery does not support reports that Camp 22 was shut down or abandoned during 2012. Harvesting of crops continues as does coal production, making it not yet clear that the camp has closed and that North Korean authorities have been slowly transferring small sections of prisoners out of Camp 22 and replacing them with a regular workforce from other locations.
Former prison guards who have since defected from North Korea have testified that numerous human rights abuses occur in the camp, including torture, rape, arbitrary executions, and the use of prisoners in chemical weapons testing.
A full account of the conditions within the North Korean gulag can be found in Shin Dong-hyuk’s remarkable book (with Blaine Harden), Escape from Camp 14. Shin is the only person born in a North Korean concentration camp to ever have escaped.