“My cellmate was pregnant. I am a simple person but she was an educated lady of 35, on the staff of the United Enterprise Company, from the Songpyong district of Kimchaek city. She had been sent back from China, like me.
“About 3am, she gave birth to a girl. Well, the guard came along and shouted at her that she knew she must kill the baby. He said he’d beat her if she didn’t.
“The baby lay crying. It was still attached to her by the umbilical cord. She tried to will herself to harm it but her hands were shaking so much she could not. The guard came back and screamed at her, ‘Why haven’t you killed it?’
“Well, we sat there for almost three hours like that. Then at six, the guard came back again and told her, look, either you kill the baby or we will, and then we’ll beat you up and you’ll never get out of here.
“So, while I watched, the mother leant down and bit through the umbilical cord. Deliberately, she did not tie the cord connected to the baby. A lot of blood flowed out. The infant died almost immediately.”
There was a silence around the table, where five of us sat. Nobody quite trusted themselves to speak. The grandmother’s homespun features crinkled up.
“What I’ve told you is what I saw with my own eyes,” she said.
[Excerpt of an article by Michael Sheridan, Sunday Times]