HRNK publishes Camp 22 imagery

HRNK seems to have gotten its hands on imagery of Camp 22 without the restrictive end-user license terms that came with the imagery I’d analyzed here.  Now, you can examine it for yourself at HRNK’s site and compare it to Google Earth imagery on your own.  If you spot something, say it in the comments.

For what it’s worth, I see at least one change at Camp 22 that’s significant enough to be worth continued watching, to see what other changes emerge.  The Daily NK continues to work its sources and develop leads.  Who knows what they might help us spot?  In the end, however, the thing I can’t reconcile with the reports of Camp 22’s closure is the crops.  If either report is true, who planted and tended them all year?

See also:  Evan Ramstad at the Korea Real Time blog.

UPDATE: The Daily NK reports that the area is now being farmed by “low class families” from nearby counties, but this still doesn’t explain how the crops were planted at a time when the camp was being emptied of its last prisoners. Here, again, is the Daily NK’s original report:

“At the start of March they started transferring the sick and malnourished, and then in April they moved all the healthiest ones,” he explained, adding that the camp officers and then their families moved in May, and that the camp was completely empty by the start of June.

So who planted those crops?


  1. Hey Josh,

    I just wanted to briefly mention that not only the October 11 satellite photos, but also the full HRNK/DigitalGlobe report is available on the HRNK website in the publications section:

    I am glad that you agree with the point regarding the crop production in the area. As the report states in the conclusion:

    “DigitalGlobe’s analysis of the October 11, 2012, image, in comparison with the November 5, 2010, and May 21, 2011 imagery, reveals typical fall activity (i.e., harvesting, drying of crops, thrashing, etc.) in and around the Haengy?ng-ni and Chungbong-dong areas of interest. Aside from a notable increase in the coal stockpile at the Chungbong-dong loading facility—suggesting a consistent or increasing level of production—the only significant change at Camp 22 during the last year has been the razing of several small buildings, one of which in Haengy?ng-ni has been reported by defectors as a detention and interrogation facility. Nothing in the examined imagery supports the Radio Free Asia and DailyNK reports that Camp 22 was shut down or abandoned during 2012. To the contrary, the level of activity and the state of the agricultural, industrial and civil infrastructure in the area strongly suggests that the camp remains operational. However, with that said, it is essential to understand that North Korean officials, especially those within the Korean People’s Army and the internal security organizations, clearly understand the importance of implementing camouflage, concealment and deception (CCD) procedures. It would not be unreasonable to assume that they have done so here. If this is true, it would lend credence to the Radio Free Asia and DailyNK reports that indicate North Korean authorities have been slowly transferring small sections of prisoners out of Camp 22 (i.e., Haengy?ng-ni and Chungbong-dong areas) and replacing them with farmers and laborers from other locations within Hamgy?ng-bukto. Such activity would not be readily discernible on satellite imagery. Therefore, neither scenario can be ruled out at this time. DigitalGlobe and HRNK will remain appraised of the matter.”

    This report is the first step of a broader effort initiated months ago between Digital Globe and HRNK to put together satellite imagery that details the history of the camps. HRNK will be following these developments very closely in collaboration with Digital Globe as more information and imagery becomes available.

    David Zeglen


  2. Agree completely. We really need to combine the witness testimonies with what the imagery tells us. Some of the signs may be subtle if the NK regime is engaged in a campaign of maskirovka.


  3. Josh,

    Thank you for what you do and for bringing attention to the HRNK/DigitalGlobe report. I would like to provide one clarification: it is not that we managed to get hold of this DigitalGlobe satellite imagery without restrictive end-user license terms, but much more than just that. A few months ago, HRNK and DigitalGlobe agreed to work on a joint project to feature the history and current status of all North Korean political prison camps. So, we are equal partners in this endeavor, and our colleagues at DigitalGlobe provided not only the imagery, but also the expert analysis. Although the initial plan was slightly different, we decided to begin by focusing on Camp 22, after we saw the reports about the camp having been allegedly shut down in June.

    Keep up the good work,

    Best regards,

    Greg Scarlatoiu
    Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK)


  4. Thanks, Greg. Interesting information continues to flow in, and I’m hoping to keep working with Curtis, HRNK, and the Daily NK to look for any signs that things are not as they appear.