Kaechon concentration camp

Last updated
Kaechon concentration camp
Chosŏn'gŭl
개천 제1호교화소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Gaecheon Je1ho Gyohwaso
McCune–Reischauer Kaechŏn Che1ho Kyohwaso
Chosŏn'gŭl
개천 정치범 수용소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Gaecheon Jeongchibeom Suyongso
McCune–Reischauer Kaechŏn Chŏngch'ibŏm Suyongso

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.

Contents

Location

North Korea adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Kaechon
Blue pog.svg
Pyongyang
Location of Kaechon camp in North Korea

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. [1]

Description

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. [2] 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. [3]

Purpose

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. [4]

Human rights situation

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. [5]

Forced labour

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. [6]

Health and sanitation

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. [7]

Malnutrition

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. [8]

Torture

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. [9]

Homicides and Infanticides

Pregnant women are forced to have abortions by injections. Lee Soon-ok witnessed babies born alive being murdered directly after birth. [10]

Executions

As with all the prison camps, public executions are commonplace and usually done in front of all of the prisoners. [11]

Prisoners (witnesses)

See also

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

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Sinuiju concentration camp

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Ryongdam concentration camp

Kyo-hwa-so No. 8 Yongdam is a "reeducation camp" with c. 3,000 prisoners in Kangwon, North Korea.

Oro concentration camp

Kyo-hwa-so No. 22 Oro is a "reeducation camp" with ca. 1,000 prisoners in South Hamgyong, North Korea.

Tanchon concentration camp

Kyo-hwa-so No. 77 Tanchon is a "reeducation camp" with ca. 6,000 prisoners near Tanchon in South Hamgyong province, North Korea.

Hoeryong reeducation camp

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.

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Tongrim concentration camp

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.

Sariwon concentration camp

Kyo-hwa-so No. 6 Sariwon is a "reeducation camp" in Sariwon, North Hwanghae. It holds roughly 3,500-4,000 prisoners.

Kanggye concentration camp

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.

References

  1. Google Maps: Kaechon city and the concentration camp, Updated: August 12, 2009
  2. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: Satellite Imagery of the North Korean Gulag: Kyo-hwa-so No. 1 Kaechon Overview, p. 225
  3. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: The Hidden Gulag (Section: Testimony Kyo-hwa-so No. 1 Kaechon, p. 100 - 105)
  4. "United States Senate Hearings: Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee, June 21, 2002". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  5. "United States Senate Hearings: Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee, June 21, 2002". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  6. Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights: Life in Kaechon Indoctrination Camp
  7. "United States Senate Hearings: Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee, June 21, 2002". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  8. A survivor: Soon Ok Lee – 7 years of torture in N. Korean prison camp, October 28, 2003, NBC News
  9. "Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee with illustrations, May 2, 2002" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2, 2004. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  10. Brooke, James (June 10, 2002). "Defectors From North Korea Tell of Prison Baby Killings". The New York Times.
  11. United States Senate Hearings: Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee, June 21, 2002
  12. "United States Senate Hearings: Testimony of Ms. Soon Ok Lee, June 21, 2002". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  13. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: The Hidden Gulag (Section: Testimony Kyo-hwa-so No. 1 Kaechon, p. 100 - 105)

Coordinates: 39°42′30″N125°55′24″E / 39.708276°N 125.923276°E / 39.708276; 125.923276