Image credit: Leef Smith.
In a timely reminder that testing potential nuclear weapons isn’t the worst thing the North Korean regime does, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) has released another report (pdf) highlighting the continued operation and potential expansion of the DPRK gulag system under dictator Kim Jong-un.
The research and imagery analysis confirmed that agricultural development, maintenance and construction activities have continued at Camp 25. Between 2009 and 2010, the camp perimeter increased from approximately 3,653 meters to about 5,046 meters, a 37 percent expansion. During the same period, the camp size increased from approximately 565,424 square meters to about 972,270 square meters, a 72 percent increase. While many of the original 20 guard posts detected in 2003 remain standing and operational until the present day, two were added in 2007, four in 2009, and 17 in 2010. In 2010, a new main gate was erected, and two previously separate agriculture fields in the northwest area of the camp were combined and the road between them blocked off, thus enhancing access control and ensuring that ordinary citizens have little or no opportunity to interact with the prison population or use the road adjacent to the camp.
The reasons for the expansion could include: 1. An intensified crackdown on attempted defections, and higher than previously internment of defectors forcibly repatriated from China. 2. The purge begun in early 2009 in conjunction with North Korea’s second hereditary transmission of power, resulting in the imprisonment of those displaced from power, their families and their bureaucratic support groups. 3. The consolidation of North Korea’s political prison camp system, possibly involving the downsizing of some detention facilities such as Camp 22, and the expansion of others, including Camp 25.
“It appears that North Korea’s vast system of unlawful imprisonment may be undergoing an alteration involving the consolidation of some of its political prison camps, and the expansion of others”, said Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee. Scarlatoiu added, “If a dismantling of some of North Korea’s political prisoner camps and prisoner transfers to expanded facilities are in progress, it is essential to ensure that the North Korean regime does not attempt to erase evidence of atrocities committed at the camps, including the surviving prisoners. HRNK and DigitalGlobe will continue to closely monitor developments at Camp 25 and throughout North Korea’s political prison camp system.”
Maybe Dennis Rodman can bring up Camp 22’s continued existence when he visits the country, when he’s not busy looking for Psy that is:
— Adrian Hong (@adrianhong) February 26, 2013
We’ve discussed the horrific human rights situation in North Korea at length, if, like Rodman, you are still keen to visit the DPRK, read our experts’ analysis of the ethics of doing so.
The full HNRK report: