Amongst the North Korean defectors who have been testifying before the U.S. Congress on the human rights situation in North Korea is Kim Tae Jin, who spent four years in a concentration camp before escaping to South Korea in 2001.
Kim, who is now a leading pro-democracy activist, told the Congressional hearing in Washington that most political prisoners in North Korea are jailed for religious reasons or because their family members were accused of crimes.
Kim Tae Jin said “I am a living testimony to the horror and pain [prisoners] have to go through” and that from day one, he and other prisoners got a minimum amount of food and did not have water fit for human consumption. Kim says he only was allowed to drink water dripping from a toilet and then had to use the same water to wash his dishes.
A recent U.S. State Department report on human rights in North Korea estimated that the government is holding 150,000 to 200,000 people in political prison camps. It said prison conditions were harsh, prisoners were tortured and some women underwent forced abortions.