So what if the two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee had experienced the unlikely misfortune of a North Korean labor camp or prison?
The U.S. State Department paints a dismal picture, saying that torture is commonplace and even non-political prisoners face threats to their lives.
According to escaped North Korean refugees, in some places of detention, prisoners receive little or no food and are denied medical care. State Department reports indicate, "Sanitation is poor and former labor camp inmates report they had no changes of clothing during their incarceration and were rarely able to bathe or wash their clothing."
North Korea also prohibits women from giving birth in its prisons, instead forcing them to undergo abortions. In case of live births, "there were reports that prison guards killed the infant or left it for dead."
The State Department report estimates that 150,000 to 200,000 people are in political prisons, some for offenses as minor as sitting on newspapers bearing the image of leader Kim Jong-Il or his deceased father Kim Il-Sung.