Finding food in the detention settlement is an endless battle for survival. We ate whatever we could find – rats, frogs, snakes, insects, grass, beans, or corn grains found in cattle droppings.
If we were caught eating anything other than the rationed corn, we were severely punished. However, the severe beatings and punishments did not stop the prisoners from attempting to get additional food.
Catching a snake is a real fortune, like butchering a cow. If they find a snake while working, all of them work together to kill it and share it among themselves.
The great men in the settlement are those who are good at finding food or catching rats, snakes or frogs. At first, they used a lance or spear to kill the rats. But they devised all kinds of hooks to catch rats. Rats became extremely difficult to find.
Sometimes, they would [see] crows flying with a branch of corn. The prisoners would throw stones at the crows and they would drop the corn before flying away.
Those who could not find other food would often break ice in the stream to look for frog eggs.
--From an account by Ahn Hyok, Former Detention Settlement Prisoner