A family and a conscience, destroyed by North Korea's cruelty





"I am fool."

That self-assessment comes from Oh Kil-nam, a South Korean economist who moved to North Korea a quarter-century ago, dragging along his unhappy wife and two teenage daughters. He then defected to the West, leaving his family stranded in a country his wife had called "a living hell."...

His wife and daughters -- if alive -- are believed to be prisoners in Camp No. 15, one of several sprawling political prisons in the mountains of North Korea.

Nineteen years ago, North Korean authorities, via unofficial intermediaries based in Germany, sent Oh letters that were written in his wife's hand, saying she and the girls were in the camp. There were pictures of them posing in the snow -- and a cassette tape with voices of his daughters begging to see their daddy.

High-resolution satellite images of Camp 15 and several other political prisons have been widely circulated in the past year on Google Earth, arousing increased concern about human rights abuses inside the North Korean gulag, which has existed for more than half a century -- twice as long the Soviet gulag. But documentary evidence of life inside the North's camps remains exceedingly rare....

Defectors who have been released from Camp 15 say public executions are common there, along with beatings, rapes, starvation and the disappearance of female prisoners impregnated by guards. They say that prisoners have no access to soap, underwear, socks, tampons or toilet paper -- and that most inmates die by age 50, usually of illnesses exacerbated by overwork and chronic hunger....

comments powered by Disqus
History News Network