We drove to the border city of Tumen, where the Chinese army has built a prison on a hill to house their North Korean captives.
At the frontier bridge over the river, three shopkeepers said they often witnessed vanloads of prisoners being taken back. They are unloaded outside two grey office buildings visible on the far side. A giant color portrait of Kim Il-sung, Stalin’s ally, who founded North Korea, greets the victims on their return.
Often, North Korean guards skewer the prisoners with wire through their hands or under their collarbones to be yoked like cattle, according to Chinese soldiers who have seen the practice.
“We’ve got Koreans hiding in our village,” confided a gruff farmer in his sixties, who stood looking at the view. “Of course we don’t report them! They are just poor people.If we report them they are sent back to serious punishment. How could we do that? It would betray our own consciences.”
Private Chinese consciences apart, the prison vans are still rolling.
[Excerpt of an article by Michael Sheridan, Sunday Times]