|Kaechon concentration camp|
|Revised Romanization||Gaecheon Je1ho Gyohwaso|
|McCune–Reischauer||Kaechŏn Che1ho Kyohwaso|
개천 정치범 수용소
|Revised Romanization||Gaecheon Jeongchibeom Suyongso|
|McCune–Reischauer||Kaechŏn Chŏngch'ibŏm Suyongso|
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|Human rights in North Korea|
Kaechon concentration camp (also spelled Kaech'ŏn or Gaecheon) is a prison in North Korea with many political prisoners. The official name is Kyo-hwa-so (Reeducation camp) No. 1. It is not to be confused with Kaechon internment camp (Kwan-li-so Nr. 14), which is located 20 km (12 mi) to the south-east.
The camp is located in Kae'chŏn county, P'yŏngan-namdo province in North Korea. It is situated on the outskirts of Kaechon city, around 2.5 km (1.6 mi) east of the city center, behind a little hill.
Kaechon concentration camp is a large prison compound, around 300 m (1000 feet) long and 300 m (1000 feet) wide, surrounded by a 4 m (13 feet) high wall with barbed wire on top. The prisoners, around 4000 men and 2000 women (in 1992), are political prisoners mixed with common criminals. Theoretically prisoners should be released after reeducation through labor and serving their sentence. But as the prison sentences are very long and the conditions are extremely harsh, many do not survive their prison sentences. Ji Hae-nam estimates that during her sentence of two years around 20% of the prisoners died.
The main purpose of Kaechon camp is to punish people for less-serious crimes, whereas political crimes (e. g. criticism of the government) are considered a severe offense. But the prisoners are also used as slave workers, who have to fulfill high production quotas in very difficult conditions. For this purpose there is a shoe making factory, a leather and rubber factory, a clothing factory and other factories in the camp.
The human rights situation in the camp is described in detail by Lee Soon-ok in her testimony to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. She explains how the prisoners have no rights and how they are treated at the mercy of the guards.
The prisoners are forced to work around 18 hours per day at the camp's factories. If someone does not work quickly enough, he or she is beaten. Sometimes prisoners sleep at their workplaces to fulfill the production quota. All this involves frequent work accidents and many prisoners are crippled from the work or from torture.
Prisoners are forced to sleep in a room with 80 to 90 people in 30 square metre (322 square feet) flea-infested rooms. Prisoners are only occasionally allowed to use the toilet (one for about 300 people) and may only take a shower after several months. Diseases like paratyphus are common, resulting from the bad nutrition.
Food rations are 100 grams of broken corn three times a day and a salt soup. In case of rule violations food rations are reduced. Lee Soon-ok reported that prisoners even killed rats and ate them raw in order to survive.
There are 78 punishment cells in the camp, each 60 cm (24 inches) wide and 110 cm (43 inches) high, where prisoners are locked up several days. Afterwards many of them are unable to walk and some even die. Prisoners are often beaten, kicked or whipped. Lee Soon-ok was tortured being forced to drink a large quantity of water until she fainted (water torture) and almost died. During her sentence she witnessed many types of torture.
Pregnant women are forced to have abortions by injections. Lee Soon-ok witnessed babies born alive being murdered directly after birth.
As with all the prison camps, public executions are commonplace and usually done in front of all of the prisoners.
Human experimentation in North Korea is an issue raised by some North Korean defectors and former prisoners. They have described suffocation of prisoners in gas chambers, testing deadly chemical weapons, and surgery without anesthesia.
North Korea's human rights record is often considered to be the worst in the world and has been globally condemned, with the United Nations, the European Union and groups such as Human Rights Watch all critical of the country's record. Most international human rights organizations consider North Korea to have no contemporary parallel with respect to violations of liberty.
Lee Soon-ok is a former prisoner of a North Korean political prison and the author of Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman, an account of her ordeal of being falsely accused, tortured, and imprisoned under poor conditions for crimes against the state and her subsequent release from prison and defection from the country. Since leaving North Korea, she has resided in South Korea.
Kaech'ŏn or Kaechon is a city in South P'yŏngan province, North Korea.
Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman is a 1999 book that recounts the experiences of former North Korean political prison survivor and refugee Lee Soon-ok. The title acknowledges the author's view that she and other prisoners were treated like animals.
Kaechon Internment Camp is a labor camp in North Korea for political prisoners and descendants of alleged criminals. The official name for the camp is Kwan-li-so No. 14. The camp is commonly known as Camp 14. It is not to be confused with the Kaechon concentration camp, which is located 20 km (12 mi) to the northwest.
Pukch'ang concentration camp is a labor camp in North Korea for political prisoners. It is sometimes called Tŭkchang concentration camp. The official name is Kwan-li-so No. 18.
Chongori concentration camp is a reeducation camp in North Korea. The official name of the camp is Kyo-hwa-so No. 12.
North Korean prison camps have conditions that are unsanitary and life-threatening, and a significant number of prisoners in them die. Prisoners are subject to torture and inhumane treatment. Public and secret executions of prisoners, even children, especially in cases of attempted escape, are commonplace. Infanticides also often occur. The mortality rate is exceptionally high, because many prisoners die of starvation, illnesses, work accidents, or torture.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 3 Sinuiju is a "reeducation camp" in North Pyongan, North Korea. It holds roughly 2,500 prisoners.
Kangdong concentration camp is a reeducation camp in North Korea. The official name of the camp is Kyo-hwa-so No. 4.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 8 Yongdam is a "reeducation camp" with c. 3,000 prisoners in Kangwon, North Korea.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 22 Oro is a "reeducation camp" with ca. 1,000 prisoners in South Hamgyong, North Korea.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 77 Tanchon is a "reeducation camp" with ca. 6,000 prisoners near Tanchon in South Hamgyong province, North Korea.
Kyo-hwa-so Hoeryong is a "reeducation camp" in Hoeryong, in North Hamgyong province of North Korea. It is not to be confused with Haengyong political prison camp, which is located 10 km (6.2 mi) north-east of Hoeryong and is sometimes also called Hoeryong camp. It holds roughly 1,500 prisoners.
Hamhung concentration camp is a reeducation camp in North Korea. The official name of the camp is Kyo-hwa-so No. 9. The sub-facility for women is sometimes called Kyo-hwa-so No. 15.
Chungsan concentration camp is a reeducation camp in North Korea. Its official name is Kyo-hwa-so No. 11.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 2 Tongrim is a "reeducation camp" in Tongrim County, North Pyongan. Its number of prisoners and its state of operation are unknown.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 6 Sariwon is a "reeducation camp" in Sariwon, North Hwanghae. It holds roughly 3,500-4,000 prisoners.
Kyo-hwa-so No. 7 Kanggye is a "reeducation camp" in Kanggye, Chagang. Its number of prisoners and its state of operation is currently unknown.