"At the camp [where I was held], I witnessed public executions, forced labor, and other inhumane atrocities.
"A new prisoner in the North Korean political prison camps is taught not to consider themselves as human beings. The prisoners cannot complain of beatings or even murders.
“Even the children are subject to forced labor, and about one third of them die of malnutrition and heavy labor. I also suffered from malnutrition three months after being imprisoned, lacking even the strength to walk.
“Because we were not given any source of protein, we would catch and eat snakes, frogs, or even worms in order to survive. At first, I did not want to taste these things. One day my friends caught some rats while working in the fields and roasted them on an open fire.
“That was the first time I tasted rat meat, and that one piece of rat meat sustained me. From then on I ate anything to survive: rats, frogs, snakes, and worms.
"Prisoners who do not do this could die in less than a year. People like me who are able to eat anything can survive longer."
Kang Chol-Hwan, North Korean defector and human-rights activist