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North Korea holding 154,000 political prisoners: South Korea

Last Updated: Saturday, October 17, 2009 - 14:26

Seoul: North Korea is still operating six
Stalinist-style labour camps holding 154,000 inmates, a South
Korean lawmaker said on Saturday.

Yoon Sang-Hyun, from the ruling Grand National Party,
said the North had had 10 camps holding about 200,000
prisoners until the late 1990s when it closed down four of
them amid mounting international criticism.
"Currently, it holds 154,000 prisoners in six places," he
was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

He cited a government report presented to the National
Assembly.

Seoul had reportedly been aware of the camps since 2005
but had not disclosed the information for fear of harming
inter-Korean relations, the conservative Dong-A daily said.
North Korea denies holding any political prisoners. Its
official media say there are no human rights issues in the
communist state where everybody leads "the most dignified and
happy life."

Inmates at the gulags are reportedly forced to work more
than 10 hours a day and denied access to medical care,
receiving only 100 to 200 grams (four to eight ounces) of food
rations, while the North Korean food ration for children
of up to age four is set at 234 grams.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, October 17, 2009 - 14:26

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