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Survivor reveals horrors of torturous North Korean prison camps

Last Updated: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 14:01

Washington: The horrific living conditions in North Korea’s labor camps, which are believed to hold up over 100,000 of political prisoners, have been revealed.

The report by CBS News based on interview with one of the prisoners of the camp showed widespread starvation, incredibly brutal working conditions, and torture methods in practice inside the prisons.

Shin Dong-hyuk, a 30-year-old young man who says he was born in one of the camps, revealed how for the perceived disloyalty of just one relative, three generations of a family -- grandparents, parents, and children - are sent to perform hard labor on the brink of starvation in brutal North Korean prison camps.

The report quoted Shin, saying that ‘because he was born there, he just thought that those people who carry guns were born to carry guns and prisoners like him were born as prisoners.’

According to the report, he says he had no idea that America existed or that the world was round.

For the first two decades of his life, he says, he never thought about escaping because he thought the rest of the world was just like the prison camp.

Shin, who is believed to be the only person born in a North Korean prison camp who has ever escaped to tell about it, painted a devastating portrait of life in Camp 14, a political prison located in the mountains 50 miles north of Pyongyang.

He described being tortured, seeing a little girl beaten to death for stealing a few kernels of corn, and watching his mother and brother executed before his eyes.

Hunger was a pervasive factor of everyday life, the report quoted Shin, as saying.

The prisoners were so hungry, Shin said, they ate rats and insects to keep from starving.

According to human rights groups and the United Nations, Camp 14 is one of several North Korean prison camps housing an estimated 150,000 political prisoners, the report said.

North Korea has denied that it has any political prisons, but has refused to allow outside observers to inspect Camp 14 and other sites, it added.


First Published: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 14:01

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