North Korea’s Largest Concentration Camps on Google Earth

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution. These reports, in the context of estimates that North Korea has allowed between 600,000 and 2,500,000 of its people to starve to death while its government squandered the nation’s resources on weapons and luxuries for its ruling elite, suggest that North Korea’s oppression and politically targeted starvation of its people collectively constitute the world’s greatest ongoing atrocity, and almost certainly the most catastrophic anywhere on earth since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

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[Click any of these images to enlarge them.]

The National Security Agency (bowibu) runs most of the camp system. Others are operated by the inmin pohan seong, a/k/a anjeon bu, or Peoples’ Security Agency. Excluding local Anjeonbu and Bowibu offices, most of North Korea’s concentration and labor camps fit into one of the following classifications:

1. The vast kwan-li-so political prison camps.
2. Labor reeducation camps, or kyo-hwa-so.
3. Regional collection and labor-training camps.

This list is certainly not exclusive. Witnesses have described a number of other kyo-hwa-so and regional prisons and camps that I have not yet located. I update this page periodically as I locate additional sites and witnesses confirm that they are what I believe them to be.

1. Political Prison Camps, or Kwan Li So

This page constitutes the first published delineation of the boundaries of North Korea’s largest political prison camps, known as kwan-li-seo in Korean. Outsiders know of six such camps:

* Camp 14, at Kaechon, in central North Korea
* Camp 15, at Yodok, in east-central North Korea
* Camp 16, at Hwasong, in northeastern North Korea
* Camp 18, at Kaechon, across the river from Camp 14
* Camp 22, Hoeryong, in extreme northeastern North Korea
* Camp 25, Chongjin, also in the far northeast.

With the exception of Camp 25, which is built in a “penitentiary” style, each of these vast camps consists of hundreds of square miles. Most of the prisoners are incarcerated for political offenses. Pursuant to Kim Jong Il’s guidance to “root out class enemies for three generations,” family members of persons accused of political crimes are also sent to concentration camps or labor camps.

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All of the kwan-li-so camps are located in remote areas, protected by electrified fences and guard posts. The penalty for attempting to escape is death. Until March 2008, only portions of these camps were visible to Google Earth viewers.  Recent additions to Google Earth’s high and medium resolution coverage of North Korea  now make it possible to delineate these  camps more-or-less completely.

Despite reports of the use of an experimental gas chamber and experimentation on human subjects at Camp 22, there is no evidence that the camps engage in industrial-scale extermination operations such as those at Auschwitz. What we know of the camps’ brutal conditions suggest that they are comparable to those in the Nazi camps at Mauthausen and Buchenwald, which largely killed through a combination of exhaustion, disease, starvation, and arbitrary brutality.

The camps do not exist merely to punish and isolate potential dissidents; they are also the foundation of the North Korean regime’s system of domestic terror. The system enforces obedience and suppresses thoughtcrime by threatening not just the life of the dissenter, but also the lives of his loved ones, according to Oh Gyeung Seob, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute:

“The National Security Agency conducts surveillance to generate fear during the process of uncovering, investigating, punishing and purging political prisoners. Prison camps create more fear by treating existing political prisoners inhumanly,” he explained, connecting the security forces and prison camp roles in totalitarian North Korea.

Particularly, he explained, “The North Korean system is structured around the fear spread by the existence of political prison camps, meaning that public political opposition from citizens is impossible. Every person and the people around them are harmed by the system of guilt by association; therefore they suppress their political opposition of their own accord.

The camps may also play a role in the regime’s nuclear weapons development. Because of the proximity of one camp, Camp 16, to North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing sites at Cape Musudan, forced labor from that camp may also be connected to North Korea’s WMD development (see this page for Google Earth images of North Korean nuclear sites).

One can begin to grasp the immensity of the camps’ size and  cruelty, and to corroborate least some of what the witnesses have told us, by comparing their accounts with the  strikingly clear imagery of Camp 22, where the excellent resolution makes it possible to identify individual people in the satellite imagery.  The imagery of Camp 16 is also relatively clear; however, no survivors have emerged to describe the camp’s conditions and population, despite reports of a mass escape from that camp in December  2006.  Images of the camp had never been published until I published these images at this  site  in  February 2007.

“The Hidden Gulag” published some images of all of the kwan-li-so  except Camp 16, but did not map their perimeters.  It also published this map showing the locations of the larger camps.  I made  this overlay of that image on Google Earth:

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Kwan-li-so 14 & 18

Camps 14 and 18  lie on opposite sides of the Taedong River.  Camp 18, on the south bank, appears  to have a much larger prison capacity.  On the north bank, conditions in Camp 14, the so-called “life imprisonment zone,” are said to be far worse.

All of Camp 18’s boundary fences are  visible on Google Earth.  The camp’s main industry  appears to be  coal mining.  It was not possible to  delineate the northern boundary of Camp 14 with certainty, but because the visible  boundaries generally follow high ridge lines, and because  roads do not cross  the camps’ boundaries without passing though  easily identifiable guard posts, it is possible to make an educated guess of where the more remote boundaries lie.

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Kwan-li-so 15

Camp 15, also known as Yodok, is described in detail in survivor Kang Chol-Hwan’s memoir, “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.”  Kang was sent to Yodok with his parents and grandparents at age nine.

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Kwan-li-so 16

Less is known about Camp 16 than the other camps, possibly because it lies adjacent  another North Korea’s most closely guarded secrets:  the Mt. Mantap nuclear test site and the Musudan-ri missile test site.

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Recently, Kang Chol Hwan, now a journalist for the South Korean newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo, published a story alleging that Camp 16’s prisoners are used as forced labor in the tunnels at the test site. Because it is impossible to confirm the actual conditions at either Camp 16 or the Mount Mantap test site, however, the report relies largely on rumors.

Images of Camp 16 were first published on this site in January 2007, following unconfirmed reports of an escape by 120 prisoners.  After reading the report, I remembered that I had previously found a large compound in the same area, surrounded by the same distinctive guard posts and fence lines that I had seen around other camps. It was then that I created the overlay of North Korea using David Hawk’s map, which confirmed the location exactly:

 

Camp 16’s boundaries are relatively easy to delineate, although they appear to have shifted in some places. Some overgrown fence lines are visible along the camp’s periphery.  What appear to be additional fence lines cut through the camp’s interior. The most carefully guarded side of the camp is adjacent to populated areas.  There are fewer guard posts adjacent to North Korea’s nuclear test site to the west and a remote forest area to the north.

Kwan-li-so 22

Camp 22 is particularly infamous for the experiments said to be conducted on human subjects there.  It is clearly one of the largest camps by population, although estimates of 50,000 prisoners would appear somewhat overstated based on the number of  visible barracks huts, and in light of  former guards’ estimates that approximately 30 prisoners live in each hut.

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You can see more images and witness testimonies of Camp 22 here.

Kwan-li-so 25

If my educated guess is correct, these are the first published photographs of Camp 25, at Chongjin:

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According to the Korean Bar Association’s 2008 White Paper on Human Rights, Camp 25 is also built in a penitentiary style. The prison is also the factory where prized Kalmaegi (seagull) bicycles are made. Although no witness has yet provided positive confirmation that this site is Camp 25, several former residents of Chongjin who were the subjects of Barbara Demick’s book “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” stated there was a prison called the “Suseong Camp” in this vicinity. One former resident reported that on one occasion, a group of prisoners from the Suseong Camp was executed in downtown Chongjin. Another confirmed that at least according to local rumor, the prison was also a bicycle factory. My thanks to Ms. Demick for re-interviewing her subjects at my request.

2. Labor-Rehabilitation Camps, or Kyo Hwa So

Labor-rehabilitation camps, or kyo-hwa-so, are usually built in a penitentiary style with perimeter walls and guard towers, and hold populations of up to 10,000 political prisoners, economic criminals, and ordinary criminals. Increasingly, as in the case of Camp 12 in Chongo-ri, they are the final destinations for North Koreans who are caught trying to flee the country, often after being repatriated to North Korea by Chinese authorities. In the past, kyo hwa so were used to “rehabilitate” prisoners though labor. Increasingly, however, the conditions in kyo hwa so are so harsh, and the food rations so insufficient, that many prisoners cannot survive for a year there.

Some images of confirmed and suspected kyo-hwa-so follow. Click on the images to enlarge them.

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[Camp 12, Chongo-ri]

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[Camp 1, Kaechon]

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[Previously Unidentified Prison, south of Sinuiju, Not Confirmed by Witnesses]

3. Collection Camps and Labor Training Centers

These facilities are usually under the control of local security forces commanders. In the 1990’s, when famine first swept North Korea, millions of North Koreans fled their homes in search of food. Many starved by the roadsides or around train stations. Others were arrested by the authorities for being away from home without travel permits and were put in local collection camps, sometimes called “9/27″ camps for the date Kim Jong Il issued an order to detain these hordes of starving vagabonds. Officially, these camps are known as collection centers (jip kyul so) or labor training centers (ro dong dan ryeon dae). Since North Koreans have learned to survive by creating a black market in food, the famine has subsided into a state of constant hunger, though some no doubt still starve or die of opportunistic disease.

Today, these regional camps are increasingly used to punish North Koreans for economic crimes, such as unauthorized trading in food. According to a recent Washington Post report, these local detention centers have become “a system of extortion” to enforce the state’s monopoly on the supply and distribution of food and enrich the state’s security forces through their arbitrary power of life and death.

North Korea’s infamous penal system, which for decades has silenced political dissent with slave labor camps, has evolved into a mechanism for extorting money from citizens trading in private markets, according to surveys of more than 1,600 North Korean refugees.

Reacting to an explosive rise in market activity, North Korea has criminalized everyday market behavior and created a new kind of gulag for those it deems economic criminals, according to a report on the refugee surveys. It will be released this week by the East-West Center, a research organization established by Congress to promote understanding of Asia. [....]

The fundamental finding of the new report is that North Korea has reinvented its Stalinist-style gulag, which had focused on repression of political opponents. A network of smaller labor camps, Haggard and Noland say, is now aimed at controlling and collecting money from the broader population.

“The classic political gulag still exists, but increasingly labor camps are used to extract bribes,” Noland said. “My impression is that bribery and extortion have become very important to the livelihoods of local government officials.” [Washington Post, Blaine Harden]

That report is available here. It describes a system in which members of the security services use widespread fear of the camps to shake down citizens who depend on illegal markets to provide for their families now that the state has ceased to provide for them. Although the regime continues to try to stamp out private markets, those markets now provide most of the calories that sustain the lives of the people and prevent the return of famine. The state uses the camp system to terrorize its subjects and hold the command economy together:

The system snares economic criminals for brief terms in makeshift labor camps where inmates often witness executions and deaths from torture and starvation, according to the report.

“People witness truly horrible things and are soon released back into the population,” Noland said in an interview here.

Revolving-door incarceration has spread fear of what goes on inside the camps, he said, creating “tremendous incentives for people to pay bribes to avoid them.” [....]

The changing penal system appears to be successful in keeping the lid on any significant domestic opposition to Kim Jong Il and his government, the report found, even though market activity has sharply increased the access that ordinary North Koreans have to foreign media.

Inside North Korea, a majority of people do not dare complain or joke about the government, the survey found. It also found that fear was especially acute when it came to discussing their “Dear Leader,” as Kim is known. Only 8 percent of the refugees said that people spoke freely about him.

The East-West Center report concludes that the fear of the camps works. The North Koreans surveyed no longer believed the regime’s arguments that external security threats made it necessary for them to starve and suffer, yet the regime has managed to maintain “a highly atomized society in which barriers to collective action are profound.” The survey also found that North Korea’s detailed system of political loyalty classifications is linked to the the camp system. Broadly, the regime classifies North Koreans as “core,” “wavering,” or “hostile” citizens. The targets of the arbitrary extortion described in these new reports tend to be members of the latter classifications, most likely because the state discriminates against them in its allocation of food rations and gives them no alternative but to depend on markets.

These local detention centers are often difficult to identify in satellite imagery. From above, they may not have distinctive characteristics. This is one of them, the Sinuiju Detention Center:

sinuiju-detention-center.jpg

How I Identified the Camps in Satellite Imagery

I located some of these sites on Google Earth using the coordinates supplied in David Hawk’s “The Hidden Gulag,” published by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. I located other camps simply by scouring Google Earth for distinctive characteristics and confirming the locations with information provided by from friends, contacts, and the internet. More recently, I have begun working with human rights organizations that have researchers in Seoul who can interview North Korean witnesses and confirm the site locations. That process is still ongoing.

The boundaries of North Korean concentration camps are identifiable through distinctive characteristics they share. In most cases, it is possible to identify the general area where they are sited from the accounts of witnesses, particularly from those who authenticated the sites in David Hawk’s previously published images. A careful observer of the clear imagery of Camp 22, for example, can easily learn those general characteristics. My examinations of Camp 22 familiarized me with the layout of a typical camp and its fence lines, which are their most distinctive feature from above.

Common sense and experience give other clues: anyone who has ever worked on a ranch know that barbed wire fences have to run in straight line segments, do not run in curves, and must be braced at their corners. That makes a fence line easily distinguishable from a road.

The most distinctive sign of a camp’s fence line is the placement of guard posts and guard towers at regular intervals. Guard posts and towers are usually found along camp boundaries adjacent to where prisoners live and work. They may not be present along the camps’ more remote boundaries. These images, of the western side of Camp 22, were taken on a clear day and provide exceptionally good resolution. Even the wire is visible.

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Where roads enter the camps, there are large guard posts to control traffic. This example image shows the main gate of Camp 14, on the north bank of the Taedong River, upstream from the capital of Pyongyang:

 

At this image, at Camp 22, a group of people can be seen standing in the courtyard of the camp’s southwestern gate. While we will never know who these people are, one can reasonably infer that they are prisoners being brought in (our best information is that prisoners are seldom released from Camp 22).

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Otherwise, roads and trails do not cross camp boundaries, and any suspected camp boundary that intersects a road, trail, or path, has most likely been abandoned and moved. The clearance of much wider lines generally indicates a power line rather than a camp boundary. Any line that runs between populated areas is more likely a power line.

The camp’s fence lines usually follow ridge lines. Except in very remote areas, vegetation is usually cleared from using trees to climb over fence lines. This makes well-maintained fence lines easy to spot in forested areas, particularly in winter time images. In populated areas, trees may have been cleared from the land outside the fence, but the area inside the fence will still be thickly forested. I speculate that the camp authorities prefer to leave the trees there, along the fence line, to screen the camp from outside observation. Here, for example, is the western side of Camp 22.

 

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In more remote areas of the camps, fence lines are less well maintained and much more difficult to identify. That is complicated by the fact that fence lines at some of the camps appear to have shifted over the years, meaning that one must identify the current fence line among a number of alternatives. In addition, some camps, especially Camp 16, appear to have internal fence lines dividing different parts of the camp from each other.

More Information

Regrettably, there has been relatively little media interest in North Korea’s concentration camps as press coverage has concentrated on the WMD proliferation and diplomatic aspects of the North Korea story.  Arguably, however, the story of the camps provides some essential perspective on the pathology of the North Korean regime without which those other stories cannot be fully understood.

David Hawk, in cooperation with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, is in the process of producing an update to “The Hidden Gulag,” which I expect will make extensive use of Google Earth imagery.  I first showed Mr. Hawk these images in 2007, and in 2008, I provided him and the Committee dozens (if not hundreds) of images of the camps and other locations of interest.  I expect that some of those images will have a prominent place in Mr. Hawk’s research and his final presentation.

“My” images of Camp 22 — I hesitate to say they’re “mine;” really, all I did was find the locations and take screen shots — were also featured in two Senate floor speeches by Senator Sam Brownback, in which he criticized the State Department’s efforts to sideline human rights in its negotiations with North Korea (see here and here).

More recently, the film producer N.C. Heikin has released a documentary, entitled “Kimjongilia,” which played at the Sundance Film Festival.

You can see more Google Earth imagery of places in North Korea of military and political interest at this page.  To keep current on events relating to North Korea, you can always subscribe to the One Free Korea blog.

Update 3/2012: If this shocked you, wait till you see how the Associated Press is portraying daily life in North Korea these days.

75 comments

  1. Tim Francis says:

    It seems that North Korea makes Zimbabwe and Saddam’s Iraq look like a church fete. Isn’t it about time the international community did something and stopped pretending as an excuse?

  2. Joshua says:

    People have been saying that for decades. “International community” is an oxymoron when China and Russia veto anything resembling decisive action.

  3. THE LIBERATOR says:

    “ONE DAY I WILL LEAD AN ARMY OT NORTH KOREA AND SAVE THE MILLIONS OF PPL HTAT NEED SAVING ..
    ITS TIME THE USA STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT FULE AND OIL AND GO KILL SOME REAL TERRORISTS

  4. Christian A. Beltram says:

    I hope that a detailed history of these concentration camps is someday written. Such a book could be modelled after Aleksander Solzhenytsin’s “The Gulag Archipelago.

  5. Irene says:

    To “a listener”: do you have any idea as to why the Obama administration and…Obama himself, is “silent” re: death camps in North Korea, especially in light of the fact that he just gave a speech about “silence being the co-conspirator to evil” (Holocaust Memorial)? Is our approach to the DPRK really about being silent about the death camps in return for nuclear weapons abandonment?!

  6. Qwerty says:

    Two hundred thousand people in prison camps is a lot.

    Out of the whole population of 20 million, that’s about 1%.

    Much like the USA (0.8%).

  7. Why, what perfect, unassailable logic. Because imprisoning someone after a trial with legal representation before a jury of one’s peers and all the procedural guarantees afforded by the U.S. Constitution is EXACTLY the same thing as putting a child in a concentration camp — in these conditions, no less — because an anonymous tipster denounced her grandfather.

  8. usinkorea says:

    ? Oh. I see it now. Dead people from politically directed starvation or outright execution aren’t in prison. So we don’t tally them in the 200,000….

  9. Kevin says:

    Joshua,

    Nobody said prison conditions or statistics are “EXACTLY” the same between the US and DPRK, and nobody equated the two systems of justice.

    What *was* compared was the incarceration rates of the two countries, and our (US) rate is unconscionably high, particularly when considering that many (most?) of the prisoners in the US are jailed for non-violent, consensual use or sale of controlled substances.

  10. Umm, so in which of those American prisons are children starved to death, people stoned to death for escaping, or put in gas chambers to test chemical weapons? Of course, North Korea can keep its prison population down because (a) some don’t make it through those rigorous trial procedures; and (b) an annual mortality rate of 20% does tend to keep the general population down.

    Then you make this claim:

    [M]any (most?) of the prisoners in the US are jailed for non-violent, consensual use or sale of controlled substances.

    Jailed for the use of controlled substances?  Care to cite me some stats on that?  I was an Army prosecutor and defense counsel for five years.  I dare say we were much less tolerant of drug use than the civilian system, yet not once did I see anyone do time for the mere use of controlled substances.  The going rate for that was nonjudicial punishment (restriction and extra duty) followed by a general discharge.  I’ll make an educated wager that the rate of incarceration for nonviolent drug use is statistically insignificant.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2005, 53% of the U.S. state prison population consisted of violent offenders, 19% consisted of property offenders, 20% were drug offenders (and of course, all drug dealers are nonviolent, right?), and 9% were public order offenders (mostly drunk driving, parole violators, weapons charges). Of the U.S. prison population on any given day, approximately 35-40% were held in minimum security or community facilities (page 14). That probably accounts for most of the drunk drivers and mellow stoners.

    So your argument is based on inaccurate facts and flawed language — vapid, shallow, stupid, and an insult to the victims of these camps. Thanks for conceding that the conditions or statistics aren’t “exactly” alike. Let’s try “not remotely comparable.”

  11. Sonagi says:

    Owing to our constitutionally protected freedom of speech and assembly, there are plenty of organizations dedidated to publicizing and advocating on issues related to our criminal justice system. There are far, far fewer people and organizations working to improve the lives of North Koreans, who are not free to organize themselves and work for their own betterment. Regardless of the conditions of US prisons (which as Joshua noted aren’t nearly as brutal as those in North Korea) or other aspects of American life and law, Joshua’s US citizenship has no bearing on his moral authority to speak out on human rights in North Korea.

    Qwerty’s and Kevin’s tu quoque wouldn’t even score in a high school debate.

  12. Won Joon Choe says:

    God, how I love people who play moral equivalence games…

  13. A duderino says:

    Amazing. The US has 10 times the prison population of North Korea. It was the only country in the “western” world where children can be sentenced to death until 2005 when the supreme court finally outlawed the death penalty for minors. Yet the chickenhawks complain about the 200,000 in prisons in North Korea. As for your stats Mr. Stanton:
    …as of 2005, 53% of the U.S. state prison population consisted of violent offenders, 19% consisted of property offenders, 20% were drug offenders (and of course, all drug dealers are nonviolent, right?), and 9% were public order offenders (mostly drunk driving, parole violators, weapons charges).
    If the 20% that were drug offenders had commited violent crimes, don’t you think they’d be reported under the violent offenders percentage? 20% is not statistically insignificant.

    North Korea might be able to do something with itself if economic sanctions were lifted. Yes of course the rich would continue to enrich themselves further (and that never happens in the US, no sir that gap between rich and poor isn’t growing, and the middle class is surely not disappearing). However I’m sure you’ve heard of trickle-down economics. The collaboration between the south and the north in kaesong was a step in the right direction. The coporate boys in the south got richer off the slave labor in the north, but the laborers got a chance to see some of what capitalism is all about.

    The north isn’t suicidal, they wouldn’t launch attacks against the south, japan or the west coast of the US. The chance of the north launching an attack is about the same as Saddam actually having had WMD.

    The comparison between the two countries’ prison systems is valid, as one has a quarter of the planet’s prison population, is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat, has started 2 wars in the last 8 years and has bullied other countries until it gets its way. The other has a dictator who wants to stay in power but would also probably like to keep his people happy (after all, a happy well-fed population is far less likely to foment revolution). Comparing the values of the two countries is key to determining who has the right to tell others what to do.
    Since I know that posting anything remotely like what I’m posting here is like whispering in a rock concert, I’ll leave you with a parting query…do you think the average south korean wants the two countries to re-unite?

  14. Greg says:

    “The US has 10 times the prison population of North Korea.”

    The US has 13 times the population of North Korea.

    “If the 20% that were drug offenders had commited violent crimes, don’t you think they’d be reported under the violent offenders percentage? 20% is not statistically insignificant.”

    People go to prison in North Korea for being Christian, saying something bad about Dear Leader, or being related to a former land-owner.

    “Do you think the average south korean wants the two countries to re-unite?”

    I think that many South Koreans don’t want the tax burden of supporting millions of destitute North Koreans.

  15. Sherri says:

    We look at the history of Nazi Germany and wonder how something so horrible could be allowed to happen, yet here we are in 2009 with similiar horrors going on and all our politicians do is talk????

    President Obama and those overpaid public servants we call Senators and Congressmen need to get off their balls, get every last one of our troops out of that mess in Iraq that Bush took us into and we need to bring the hell-fire down on North Korea to bring them into compliance was regards to human rights.

  16. Priscila De Martini says:

    Hello,

    I am a journalist from the brazilian newspaper Zero Hora. I am a very interested in the stories oabout north korean gulags and I would like to interview one of the survivors.
    Is it possible sending me some contacts?

    I think it is really important to expose these “concentration camps”.

    Thank you so much,

    Priscila De Martini

  17. Sam says:

    This is proof the Iraw war was a complete scam. If our goal was to liberate people we would start doing it in the places where it is needed most. Hate to say it but N. Korea isn’t half as bad as some other places where genocide is still occuring today. Not internment camps either, we’re talking groups of people slaughtering villages of people. Palestines, Armenians, Liberia, Teheran, Sri Lanka, even cambodia

  18. Marissa says:

    everyone needs to quit arguing because here in the u.s were bullies…our government doesnt care about any other country…they just care about suckin money out of the american people…aint nobody gonna do shit to help the people suffering in north korea..everyone can talk about how to help but nooone is actually going to do it. not anytime soon anyways

  19. Niels says:

    I’m not Korean and stumbled upon your site by accident. As most I was aware of the atrocities taking place in North Korea but I was shocked to see the scale of it all and the apparent organization behind it. Keep it up, I’m sure this site will be an eye opener for many people out there.

    I do think Sam and a few others need to do a bit more research, to say the least.

    Best wishes.

  20. tempo dulu says:

    it’s hardly surprising that there are death camps in a country in which hundreds of thousands of its people starved to death and had to eat – literally – grass. The horrors are almost beyond imagination – read Barbara Demick’s extraordinary reportage in “Nothing to Envy” to really understand what it’s like to live in hell on earth.

  21. Soldier says:

    You are on the right path, dear “Liberator”. Someone should do something about these tortured people and still no one is doing anything, not the U.S. and not the South Korean government. According to “statistics”, 400 000 ppl have died already! It’s a present day Nazi regime.

  22. Peter says:

    The North Koreans need freedom, they need Christ. Pray that they will be set free and spread the word

  23. Jack says:

    North Korea has the right to self-determination as a nation. These DETENTION CENTERS are not concentration camps. You are clearly insane.

    Hands off the DPRK.

  24. Mieu says:

    1. If you know anything, anything happened inside these so-called detention centers then you wouldn’t say something so stupid. Never judge a book by its cover, especially when dealing with totalitarianism which is so fond of euphemisms. Always read some reports by researchers and activists before forming an actual opinion.

    2. North Korea does not have the right to torture and kill its people under ANY circumstances, despite some age-old speeches about “not interfering with the internal affairs in other countries”. Those speeches are used numerous times by my own country, which is a shame.

    3. As an atheist I usually don’t like religious activities, but there is a huge difference between disliking religion and actually prohibiting religious freedom using state power, just because religious freedom Also I would choose liberal, progressive Christianity over the death cult of Juche (who already has its own deities!) any day.

  25. Stephen John says:

    I believe that North Korea needs to be freed. Imagine yourself being born in such a hopeless situation..

    If South Koreans wouldnt want shoulder the burden of helping hundreds and thousands of destitute N. Koreans then I for one will volunteer and help to make this world a better one, after all I only have one life why cant I give it to help the many generations of people to come.

    The Filipino people believes that democracy and freedom from oppression is in the power of people to help themselves in aid with the countries around it.

    Our ancestors fought with valor and bravery for our freedom against Spaniards, Japanese and Americans.

    I do really hope that a propaganda would reach North Korean people so that they woud liberate themselves from their oppressive government.

    I cant think why China cant condemn such acts against Human Rights.

    In time I believe that North Korean Officials would be punished for their acts; if not here on Earth then let Heaven judge them.

    ” When a person is cursed two graves are dug”
    -Shijouko Shoujo

  26. anon says:

    The media as a whole need to make noise on a massive scale. News channels, bulletins, newspapers ect. I never realised that they have no rights whatsoever. North Korea’s secretive ways have played a massive part, so if they won’t open up – let the outside media open them up !!

  27. Kai says:

    North Korean elites are very intelligent, they have successfully created a situation where neither military intervention or peaceful intervention would solve the problem. If we approach NK from a peaceful intervention, they would immediately demand $, food, medical supplies…ect and the NK government will 1)use those aid to purchase the loyalty of the privileged class to further consolidate their power and 2) take those aid as evidences that the Juche philosophy is working and further brainwash its people and 3) pump propaganda that the “dear leader” is so fear and respected that even the US and the UN are bowing before the dear leader with tributes. In another word, any “sunshine” policy toward the north will only perpetuate the atrocities and strengthen the regime. Even if we give all the food in the world to NK, there will still be starving people dying outside the capital because the regime is purposely using starvation as a weapon to control its citizens. On the other hand, a direct military intervention will be unimaginable. Japan, South Korea, and potentially Taiwan might come under attack by NK missiles. Seoul will literally be transformed into a “sea of fire” because NK have their “Paris guns” aimed at Seoul 24/7 behind the DMZ. Even conservative estimation will say millions of innocent civilians will die from NK artillary strike, and that does not include military casualties or people who will be displaced and affected by the war. NK also has the world’s 4th largest military. It is true that NK military will not survive US/UN military intervention, but they can actually put up a tougher fight than what most people want to believe. It is truly unfortunate that at this point, there is virtually no solution to NK.

  28. Patrick says:

    It’s not just the 200,000 people in the camps (who are all innocent by the way) but every person in that country has been brainwashed with lies since the country was founded. The people of that country, imprisoned or not, believe the Kim’s have supernatural powers. They think they’re living a better lifestyle than any other country in the world. No one is allowed to leave or visit. So in a way, the entire country is a prison.

  29. Rose says:

    why are there black spots/areas/ (specifically in quadrangles) on areas of camp16 (41*20’23.28″N 129*17’12.88″) and some large areas beside roads have seemd to have been eased/smudged out which now looks like big empty lots beside the roads. im not an expert, perhaps someone here knows why?

  30. Steven Yu says:

    @A duderino

    First of all, we’re talking about people who (estimates) are still alive in those concentration camps. Because North Korea would never divulge “precise” figures and most of us are probably talking out of our rear end (99% of all statistics are made up, including this one), no one can make any “safe” comparisons on the internet.

    If you include the millions already dead from execution vis-a-vis secret trials or otherwise the “incarceration” rates are insignificant in ANY discussion. A better analogy if you want to talk about human rights abuse is the number of deaths via capital punishment. While we’re on the subject, I’m sure the Nazis held a very tiny % of the population of Europe in concentration camps. *rolleyes*

  31. Espen says:

    Looks like some kind of water reservoars to me

  32. Nick says:

    Hi Guys,
    A friend recommended this site. Am I ashamed to say that I was ignorant of the sufferings of the North Koreans, I knew there was a communist regime but nothing else. Well done to you all for highlighting the atrocities that are being committed right under our noses and largely ignored by the western world (we are well read on the Holocaust and Khmer Rouge but not such horrors as this???!!!!??) What can I do to help? How can we end this nightmare for those poor people?

  33. Theresa says:

    Nick,

    In order to help the cause you can start here:

    http://www.linkglobal.org/

  34. Patchman123 says:

    Kai,

    They won’t put up a tough fight at all. If they did fight at all, we’d be in Pyongyang in two weeks. Their half-starved military would fold under the weight of the American Army. The American Army is fighting an army that uses 1960s ancient technology. The USA would kick their ass. Why not just use a spear and shield against the US Army? It would be the same effect. Their frontline air force consists of MiG-21 fighter planes. That is a 1960s technology that would get slaughtered before they lifted off the ground. They can’t maintain their air force. An F-15 would slaughter a slow and obsolete MiG-21 fighter, with obsolete computer system, radar and technology. We’re talking about a 1970s airframe here and obsolete technology that is not stealthy at all and the MiG-21s would get blasted from the air. The F-22s would slaughter em. Our pilots are the best trained pilots in the entire world, and I ain’t talking about Top Gun, either. We’d SLAUGHTER the

    Paris guns? These artillery guns aren’t even comparable to Paris Guns of World War I. We have an air force over there. We’d drop a laser-guided bomb right down the muzzles of their artillery guns before they’d ever shell Seoul. Millions won’t die from artillery strikes. Those are too high and exaggerated claims. Thousands maybe. Millions, NO, Millions would die from a nuclear bomb strike, but with artillery, you can get a chance to shelter from shell fire.

    The “Paris Guns” was difficult and expensive to build and produce and cost the Germans big bucks. If anything these guns are Soviet type military howitzers of 152mm variety, and man portable guns. Our intelligence people know where every one of their gun positions are. It would take the Air Force long to bomb them and knock them of commission in an instant. We have planes stationed in Japan and Korea. We’d knock em out. Nothing a good cluster bomb can’t take out. A cluster bomb from an A-10 will do.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnsADDxdf6w&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0M1m05rpq8&feature=related

    Or an Apache gunship. We have the best airpower in the entire world and we’d locate and smash those gun batteries in no time before they’d ever form up.

    The people who make claims that millions will die from artillery fire obviously know nothing about artillery bombardments or the military. They nothing about the military anyway. Self-appointeed “experts” in their stupid fancy shmancy think tanks with fancy tables in Washington DC somewhere have never had to serve on a battlefield. And neither have I had to either, nor do I want to. I am NOT a veteran of an war or conflict or hope to be in one, nor am I in the military.

    With power like that, the North Korean artillery or the North Koreans themselves will NOT stand a chance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZICozKJpb20&feature=related

  35. Luk skywalker says:

    the tyrant is dead
    now the REWOLUTION

    http://www.youtube.com/user/arles230

  36. Dudemanbro says:

    Patchman,

    It’s funny how the exact same arguments were used with respect to the Iraqi armed forces, but that didn’t prevent the invasion/occupation of Iraq from being a complete clusterfuck.

    The real question is how much guerrilla resistance would an intervening military force face in North Korea after the formal, above-ground type military was “defeated.” Even in Iraq, where Saddam was hated, there was a fierce, opportunistic, and multi-faceted resistance well after “Mission Accomplished.” North Koreans have been brainwashed into hating the US above all else. If anything, an invasion would trigger just the sort of reaction from a sizable portion of the NK population that the regime has been planning for.

  37. Mully Vouge says:

    This is why i hate google map, because it is (almost) spying other countries air . Whether the country is dood or bad, US must refrain from meddling other countries internal affairs. In short, GTFO!!!

  38. WILLIAM BAKER says:

    IS THERE ANYONE WHO IS WILLING TO DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO STOP NORTH KOREA?
    I HAVE SEEN THIS SAME INFORMATION ALL OVER THE INTERNET. WE DON’T NEED MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS TO TALK ABOUT IT AND INFORM THE PUBLIC ABOUT IT. WE NEED SOME WHO WILL ACTUALLY DO SOME THING. PEOPLE ARE BEING TREATED LIKE ANIMALS AND TORTURED WHILE WE DISCUSS WHAT THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION IS. IF ANYONE KNOWS OF ANY GROUP THAT IS REALLY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

    EVANGELIST WILLIAM BAKER

  39. WILLIAM BAKER says:

    MY EMAIL IS crgngospel@yahoo.com
    EVANGELIST WILLIAM BAKER

  40. Theresa says:

    William – I emailed you some info.

  41. jo says:

    WE NEED TO START A PRIVATE ARMY WITH DONATIONS TO RECRUTE AND MAKE AN ATTACK ON NORTH KOREA ASAP

  42. Kate says:

    I’ll tell you why no-one is doing anything about this inhumane travesty – because it’s on the backburners of many of our world’s elite, politicians and “progressive” minds today for their OWN country’s citizens at some point in the future. Many of them too may just resort to the same thing. And to intervene with N. Korea would only do harm to their future “cause” in their own countries. It would be rather hypocritical. Either that OR they just don’t want to do the hard work, pull up their shirt sleeves and take action. No, they’d rather just sit back, watch and wait to see what the outcome is – by how many thousands (or millions) the deaths increase. By sitting back, our politicians have become INVOLVED!! It’s all horrific! If this is the world counsil’s idea of world peace, you gotta’ wonder what their agenda really is….Hmm…. maybe it’s really world conformity.

  43. Nick says:

    Maybe we should stop talking about the missiles, who blames who politically in America, the DMZ, etc… We should start talking about how to save North Korea’s people from its government. My heart burns for these people and their rights as humans.

    I don’t know what to do, but I think it’s time to start contacting our representatives and making them VERY aware of this situation and contact our friends and family. A “Kony 2012″-like video needs to come up with honesty and from a well documented organization and awareness needs to be spread. And we need to figure out (as a government) how to spread the light in a dark place without the use of armed forces. Such as stronger radio frequencies, a no-fly zone, packets of paper describing freedom being dropped into the cities near camps. No idea. But we need to come up with ideas AND SOON.’

    This isn’t a situation that calls for us to become involved as a military world power. This is a situation that calls for us to be the world power of true humanitarian effort. China and Russia will join the effort when the T-Shirts and other goods that expose the North Korean’s incredible use of force against their own people begin to sell.

    In a world where there are more people on facebook than there was on the planet 200 years ago, how can we not be inspired to share this knowledge with our friends, family, government and celebrities? The wars of the future will be solved before they start because of social media.

    How much longer are we just going to interview the victims and share testimonies? This is time for the 4 generations of America and Western culture to speak up for the same 4 generations of people lost in North Korea.

  44. Castor says:

    Nick,

    For one of the first few times so far in these comments, I’ve seen a spark worth blowing on. I wish that I could do all the things I want to do to save the world, create peace, and just have everyone get along.
    But it just doesn’t work. I still can’t see a way to save the world in three easy steps, or an easy-bake oven to solve the world’s problems. But there’s still one thing I do.
    I still havn’t given up hope. I feel that however hopeless the case is, somehow, someway we’ll all get through it together.
    So I ask everyone, don’t waste time trying to “blast them to pieces”, or how we can insert ourselves into the problem, or just how big words we can use to prove our point in a comment box. Lets all just spread word, as loudly and strongly as possible. For all our issues.
    Thank you all for making my day a better one, for showing me there is still a glimmer of hope for us. Good luck to you.

  45. madison says:

    I think you all need to calm down. All the talk of war is ridiculous- remember The Korean war in teh early 1950s- that led to the separation of North and South.
    There are currently many many regimes that oppress and suppress their people. Why do you think the Middle East spring occurred.Look at Africa.
    Noth Korea is on the third generation of dictators from the one family. Many US government have tried to change NK since the Korean war. North Korea is particularly vile and intransigent but nothing will change while China and Russia see North korea as useful.
    The Chinese send back people who have escaped from North Korea. Maybe more pressure on China would help . Although China and Russia usually block anything suggested by the West aka USA.
    The North Koreans don’t need Christ they need freedom and human rights.
    I despair that the human race can be so utterly cruel to each other but it has always been like this. The Enlightenment and human rights and democracy are so new to human thinking and so fragile as well.

  46. Antoine Griffon says:

    Thanks to this publication politicians and people in general, no longer can say: “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”, but that doesn’t mean we can bring a solution. Even a boycot would make even more people starve to death.
    I regret that not earlier actions were taken to invade NK and liberate the people, since now they were able to develop more dangereous weapons and millions of people were tortured and murdered. The world cannot expect that the US and Europe starts wars against all the dictatorial regimes, the people there will have to do that themselves ultimatly. The US and Europe never received thanks for their interventions, and their loss of lives and resources. We are allways blamed for what goes wrong in the world, so why should we now intervean? To get even more blamed?
    Who wants to start a war there now? Nobody including me,!

  47. Terry says:

    It is obvious that North Korea needs intervention. Brainwashed, starved and oppressed people have no willpower or unity to help themselves. Recent articles reveal NK is now selling and populating labor camps in Siberia for slave labor. But lets not stop there … human trafficing is a mutli-billion dollar industry all over the world today. There are more slaves in our world today than any time in history. It is estimated that 1,000,000 girls between 9 and 11 are sold into prostitution every year in India alone. Guess how many people are abducted or imported into the United States every year? (Do some research!!!) The only military solution for NK is to take out the regime in one surgical strike or the collateral damage will be huge. That is way beyond me or the scope of any of us on this forum. However, we each can and I am active in fighting human trafficing on many fronts. From my perspective, we will never see a united voice and effort against the atrocities in NK until a ground swell is mounted against every form of human injustice wherever it sticks up its ugly head. The silent and free majority needs to get informed and active. Let’s draw a line and send a message! Step up and put your butt on the line where you can make a difference. Get educated! Help build orphanages, support impoverished widows, rescue abducted teens and show tangible love to exploited people. Then sound your voice, make all the noise you can, call your representatives, sponsor public forums, speak up on face book and give a few bucks to organizations that are trying to help. Also, take a few weeks and travel to a 3rd world county and expose yourself to human suffering. I drag people with me around the world all the time to see the hurt and pain first hand … it is life changing. I guess I’m saying “step up or shut up!”

  48. goyim says:

    Prophetic Messages for Asia and North Korea:

    http://messagesforallnations.blogspot.com/2011/08/messages-for-asia.html

    Prophetic Messages for All Nations:

    http://messagesforallnations.blogspot.com/2011/08/messages-for-all-nations_10.html

    Believers in North Korea, you ARE NOT forgotten, you are always in our daily intercessions. One day what the heathens did to Daniel, Sadrach, Mesach and Abednego will be repeated again in North Korea, but these believers fear YAHUVEH more than the mere dead statues. And these believers are saved and the leader of North Korea will get to know the ONLY ELOHIM in the universe!!!!!

  49. Sydney says:

    Check out this project I’ve created related to this. https://www.facebook.com/MakeFattyFamous and watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4f4vb7GBIg

  50. [...] anywhere in this world today. Yet almost as soon as the report was published, it was superseded. New satellite imagery becomes available faster than Curtis and I can analyze it. New witnesses beat the odds and arrive [...]

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