Monday, March 13, 2006

First Hand Account: Arrest and Torture

I was working in the Trade Section of the State Security Department as an agent for the West Sea Asahi Trading Company, when I was arrested in May 1993.

In a secret den in Maram of Yongsung District in Pyongyang, the police began to interrogate me. They asked me what my purpose was for entering the State Security Department and harassed me for my boldness in posing as a patriot, hiding my true identity as the son of a spy. They tortured me for answers that I had no way of giving.

The different forms of torture are too numerous to recount. Sometimes they put a wooden stick with sharp edges behind my knees, made me kneel, and then trampled my body with their heavy boots. At other times, they would hang me by the shackles on my wrists, high enough so that I was forced to stand on tiptoe. At night water would fill the solitary cell up to my stomach, depriving me of any sleep. During the long hours under water my body would gradually swell up, making it difficult for me to keep my balance. If I fell, the guards kicked me until I scrambled up again in extreme pain and fatigue.

The endless tortures were wasted on me because I could not have confessed to something I had neither done nor known. If anything I was a loyal son of KIM Il-sung and the state. Raised in an orphanage since the age of four, while other kids played in the loving arms of their parents, I was more influenced by the Party and the Great Leader KIM Il-sung than by my own parents. Naturally, I grew up to be a faithful worker whose loyalty to the Party and the Leader was impeccable.

After three months of repeated questioning, threats, and torture, I was driven five hours from Pyongyang, going through five guard posts. When I was finally let out of the car, my eyes wandered so that I could try and figure out where I was, but a quick order came from one of the men:

"Head to the ground and be still!" I complied submissively only to feel heavy boots kicking my head.

-- Yong Kim, who escaped from a political prison camp in North Korea in 1998, and 1 year later arrived safely in South Korea via China and Mongolia.

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