During a tour of European capitals last week, Guang-il Jung, North Korean defector, shone a personal light on what a UN report recently described as North Korea's "abysmal" human rights record.
In the nine months after his arrest on espionage charges, Guang-il Jung was beaten by North Korean security guards with a thick wooden club, and still bears the scars on the back of his head.In the course of beatings, the guards broke all his teeth, leaving him toothless for four years.
To deprive him of sleep, the guards at the underground prison at Hoeryong city near the Chinese border used "pigeon torture". Jung was handcuffed and tied by his arms to an object behind him so he could not stand or sit. He felt as though his bones were breaking through his chest while the rest of his body was paralyzed.
When he was arrested, Jung, a former North Korean army veteran, weighed 75kg. In the course of the interrogation his weight dropped to 38kg. After nine months at the hands of the security services, Jung made a false confession and was sent to a labor camp in Yodeok, 60 miles north of the capital Pyongyang.
At the camp, those prisoners singled out to die were assigned work they could not finish. When they did not finish the work, their food rations were reduced as punishment. Eventually the combination of heavy work and less food led to death by starvation for many.After three years, Jung escaped to South Korea in 2003.
[Excerpt of a Guardian article]