Yodok, in North Korea’s country's mountainous center, is a huge labor camp where political prisoners are sent, sometimes with their families. Estimates of this prison's population range from 20,000 to 50,000.
Inmates soon learn that while physical brutality is not as severe as that meted out by the security agencies, those who fall out of favor face a slow death.
"In Yodok, there is a way of killing prisoners without using violence," said Kim Gwang-soo. "That is starvation, which is considered legal. The guards assign inmates who were targeted for killing hard work which they can never finish."
Rations, of about 600 grams a day, are given only after completion of labor assignments. If work is unfinished, all the prisoners receive half rations, a system that turns inmates against one another.
Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, or NKHR, a Seoul-based civic group, urges nations to engage North Korea while simultaneously pressing it on human rights and offering help to upgrade its penal system. While the organization supports Seoul's engagement with Pyongyang, it criticizes its silence on human rights. "We should take the initiative to promote North Korean human rights," said Lee Young-hwan, author of NKHR's April report.
[World Peace Herald]