North Korea defectors tell of camps' hell

2011-09-21 12:48

kalahari.com

Washington - North Korean defectors on Tuesday urged the US to isolate Kim Jong-Il's regime as they recounted years in camps where they toiled morning until night and lives were worth less than flies.

Amid cautious international efforts to engage North Korea, US lawmakers invited two women to share their stories of suffering in a bid to put a greater priority on improving human rights in the communist nation.

Kim Hye-Sook told a congressional panel that she was taken to a prison camp with her family when she was only 13 because, she learned later, her grandfather had defected to South Korea years earlier.

Inmates were forced to work in coalmines for up to 18 hours a day and ate scraps of food, she said, and guards threatened to execute anyone who broke rules - including a ban on prisoners even knowing why they were jailed.

‘Bodies riddled with bullets’

Kim said that many people including her family members died at Camp Number 18, where she said "human lives are worth less than those of flies."

"I cannot even begin to describe how many people suffered and died because of starvation in the prison camp," she said, recalling bodies "riddled with countless bullet holes" if the inmates were seen as disobeying authorities.

"There was a time when I saw the bodies of people who were killed by firing squad who were rolled up in straw mats and carried away in carts, and said to myself, 'Even dogs will not die so pitifully'," she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kim eventually found refuge in South Korea after fleeing to China, where she said she suffered sex trafficking. She was joined in Washington by Kim Young-Soon, who said she was sent with her family to a camp in 1970 because she knew Song Hye-Rim, the mistress of Kim Jong-Il, then the heir apparent.

Kim Young-Soon said that three of her sons, a daughter and her parents died of starvation and that a firing squad publicly executed another son who tried to flee from North Korea. She said that her husband was sent to another camp in 1970 and that she did not know his fate.

"I wasted nine years of the prime of my life in that hellhole of a place where even animals will turn their faces away," said Kim Young-Soon, who is now over 70.

She urged US lawmakers to press for Kim, one of the world's most reclusive leaders, to be brought before the International Criminal Court.

"As long as he exists, people's suffering will continue," she said.

Succession steps

The women's accounts were impossible to verify independently. But an expert who testified before the committee said that human rights abuses appeared to be worsening in North Korea, perhaps due to succession dynamics in the regime.

"There is no evidence that the human rights situation in North Korea has improved as the Kim regime proceeds with steps towards leadership succession," said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Along with Pyongyang's provocations against South Korea, "the border crackdown aimed at preventing North Koreans from defecting to China has intensified and the political prisoner camp population has been on the increase," he said.

The crackdown comes as North Koreans increasingly have access to smuggled radios, allowing them to listen to South Korean broadcasts or US-backed Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, Scarlatoiu said.

The US earlier this month sent flood relief to North Korea.

But it has hesitated at full-fledged talks with Pyongyang, saying the regime must clearly commit to giving up nuclear weapons and improving relations with South Korea.
- SAPA
Read more on:    kim jong-il  |  north korea
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Air France grounds flights

2014-08-01 22:52
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Kuils River 17:58 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Montague Gardens 12:06 PM
Road name: Montague Drive

ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - DELAYS towards Bosmansdam Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Jan 21 - Feb 18
Jan 21 - Feb 18

You may be inspired to do things that expand your mind in a big way today. You have a need to explore and a need to please....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.