Soon Ok Lee, once a senior cadre of [North Korea's] ruling Communist Party, testified that the bodies of hundreds of North Korean prisoners served as fertilizer for orchards that produced especially large and sweet apples, pears, peaches and plums reserved for senior party and police officials. She herself was there when 150 prisoners were buried under these trees.
She said that in the meantime, prisoners were kept starving to such a degree that they ate the raw flesh of rats they had caught coming out of their latrine holes. She described special punishment cells, 24 inches wide and 44 inches high, where people were confined for seven to 10 days, without being able to stand up straight, or sit or lie down.
Such confinement was the penalty for "offenses such as leaving an oily mark on clothes, failing to memorize the president's New Year message or repeated failure to meet work quotas."
"When the prisoners are released from the cells, their legs are badly bent, with frostbite in the winter, and so they can hardly work," Soon went on. "Many victims are permanently crippled from lack of adequate exercise and eventually died as a result of the work resumed immediately after the lease."
[Excerpt of an article by Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI religion editor]