Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag

  1. I realize that this article is kind of old but the reality is that these events continue to this day, and it really hit a nerve in me that the world is turning a blind eye to these atrocities.,2763,1136483,00.html

    [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]A series of shocking personal testimonies is now shedding light on Camp 22 - one of the country's most horrific secrets[/FONT]

    [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif] Antony Barnett
    Sunday February 1, 2004
    The Observer

    [/FONT] In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 - North Korea's largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held. Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.

    Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.
    Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes. The allegations offer the most shocking glimpse so far of Kim Jong-il's North Korean regime.
    Kwon Hyuk, who has changed his name, was the former military attaché at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. He was also the chief of management at Camp 22. In the BBC's This World documentary, to be broadcast tonight, Hyuk claims he now wants the world to know what is happening.
    'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' he said. 'The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.'
    Hyuk has drawn detailed diagrams of the gas chamber he saw. He said: 'The glass chamber is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metres wide, 3m long and 2.2m high_ [There] is the injection tube going through the unit. Normally, a family sticks together and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass.'
    He explains how he had believed this treatment was justified. 'At the time I felt that they thoroughly deserved such a death. Because all of us were led to believe that all the bad things that were happening to North Korea were their fault; that we were poor, divided and not making progress as a country.
    'It would be a total lie for me to say I feel sympathetic about the children dying such a painful death. Under the society and the regime I was in at the time, I only felt that they were the enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them at all.'
    His testimony is backed up by Soon Ok-lee, who was imprisoned for seven years. 'An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners,' she said. 'One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were quite dead.'
    Defectors have smuggled out documents that appear to reveal how methodical the chemical experiments were. One stamped 'top secret' and 'transfer letter' is dated February 2002. The name of the victim was Lin Hun-hwa. He was 39. The text reads: 'The above person is transferred from ... camp number 22 for the purpose of human experimentation of liquid gas for chemical weapons.'
    Kim Sang-hun, a North Korean human rights worker, says the document is genuine. He said: 'It carries a North Korean format, the quality of paper is North Korean and it has an official stamp of agencies involved with this human experimentation. A stamp they cannot deny. And it carries names of the victim and where and why and how these people were experimented [on].'
    The number of prisoners held in the North Korean gulag is not known: one estimate is 200,000, held in 12 or more centres. Camp 22 is thought to hold 50,000.
    Most are imprisoned because their relatives are believed to be critical of the regime. Many are Christians, a religion believed by Kim Jong-il to be one of the greatest threats to his power. According to the dictator, not only is a suspected dissident arrested but also three generations of his family are imprisoned, to root out the bad blood and seed of dissent.
    With North Korea trying to win concessions in return for axing its nuclear programme, campaigners want human rights to be a part of any deal. Richard Spring, Tory foreign affairs spokesman, is pushing for a House of Commons debate on human rights in North Korea.
    'The situation is absolutely horrific,' Spring said. 'It is totally unacceptable by any norms of civilised society. It makes it even more urgent to convince the North Koreans that procuring weapons of mass destruction must end, not only for the security of the region but for the good of their own population.'
    Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: 'For too long the horrendous suffering of the people of North Korea, especially those imprisoned in unspeakably barbaric prison camps, has been met with silence ... It is imperative that the international community does not continue to turn a blind eye to these atrocities which should weigh heavily on the world's conscience.'
    ·This World is being broadcast on BBC2 at 9pm tonight.
  2. This makes me so sad that I don't even know what to say. So awful...:sad:
  3. I'd believe that. China and North Korea's governments are beyond f.cked. It's astonishing how dictatorship still continues in this day and age. This guy is a f.cking beast.
  4. ^^^agree...I always knew about North Korea. Reminds me of Stalin...Kim Jong-II actually idealizes Stalin.
  5. The people of North Korea live im unimagineable conditions, it's hard to believe that this kind of dictatorship can survive.
    We should all be thankful that we're free.
  6. I think the thing that really gets me is that after WWII and the Holocaust, the world said "never again"...yet, the world isn't doing much to help the people of North Korea either. I don't understand why there isn't more that is being done to help. Makes me want to write a letter to the United Nations.
  7. Yeah I agree. So why is the world turning a blind eye now?

    I can't believe something so horrific is happening in this time. It's unreal how something like this is actually happening and nothing is being done to stop it.
  8. I don't think the UN can do much about it really. That is, they can't do anything without using armed force because it's not just meddling with their whole system but it's pretty much conquering their country and that's a difficult feat to say the least. However, I do agree that the UN is the one entity that could help in some way since they are empowered by number.

    The only effecting way to get rid of dictatorship is pretty much to annihilate the dictator and his regime and then let the UN take it from there. That would be my ideal way of doing it. I think global warming is going to kill us all before that happens though.
  9. I read an article a while back about how due to the food shortages in N.K. the people there are physically smaller than those in S.K. It was appalling. I will try to find the article as it was a real eye opener to me about the horrid conditions those people live under. I do, however believe (and some may find this odd) but I believe that one of the laws of the universe is that good always triumphs over evil eventually. I believe history has born this out over and over again, and it will in N.K. as well.
  10. It's happening in Darfur too but they don't have oil there so nobody cares :sad:
  11. ^It's a good point. At least Darfur has some celebrities pushing into the public awareness...not that any country should need the help the way some countries do.
  12. (My opinion) is that we don't do anything because North Korea is Communist, China is Communist, and we do not want to go to war with North Korea because we will end up in a war with China. And a war with China would be a very big war and would be very difficult and expensive (both in $$ and in human life) to win.
  13. ^ And of course we wouldn't even think of it here in the Western world because our economy is kept strong because of them (China). At the end of the day, it's selfish. But as I have said before, 'helping' NK is a very difficult feat.
  14. I finally found the article. It is a few years old but an eye-opener.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2003
    North Korean starvation detailed

    Defectors reveal tales of widespread malnutrition and censorship under current regime, and the daring humanitarian work of one anonymous local pastor



    Dark clouds drifted in and lightning flashed as the mother uprooted plants on a North Korean mountainside, searching for anything edible to feed her emaciated son.

    She heard the cry of crows and grew anxious. After hurrying home, she made a thin soup and tried to wake her child.

    "But there was no response," recalled the mother, Ok Soon Hong. "He was cold and dead. ... He was so young and so beautiful, but was gone forever. I could not do anything but cry all night in deep grievance, wondering what happened to Korea."

    Hong is in the midst of a monthlong trip to the United States, including Seattle, speaking at Korean American churches about her transformation from "an ordinary housewife" to a survivor of North Korea's oppressive regime.

    Her father was arrested on unknown charges and executed. Ten other family members, including two toddler nephews, were taken to a prison camp after a distant relative fell into political disfavor.

    Hong and another defector, Gi Chul Park -- to protect family still in North Korea, they use pseudonyms and asked that their real names not be published -- recently spoke at churches in the Seattle area and in Vancouver, B.C. They left this week for California.

    They say food is so scarce in North Korea, even tales of cannibalism aren't far-fetched. They also say that the Communist regime forces women to undergo abortions, practices infanticide and punishes citizens for communicating with a South Korean or being a Christian.

    Hong, 56, and Park, 68, separately fled from North Korea in 1997, crossing the Tumen and Yalu rivers to China, where a Seattle-area pastor aided their escape to South Korea.

    The pastor, a missionary for a Pentecostal denomination and a native of what is now North Korea, said he has helped more than 60 people defect in the past six years.

    The work is risky. If discovered by Chinese authorities, defectors are returned home, where they face imprisonment and possible torture. Those who assist the defectors could join them in punishment.

    There is "no other country that needs the Gospel more than North Korea," said the pastor, who asked that his name not be published because he plans more trips to China.

    Besides spiritual restoration, he agrees with Hong and Park that helping defectors has humanitarian and political purposes, starting with saving lives of those experiencing malnutrition and starvation.

    Sharing first-person accounts of life in the Communist country also may spur American support for political solutions, such as two bills in Congress that would allow North Koreans to apply for refugee status or asylum in the United States.

    Nearly 2,300 Korean Americans from Seattle to Tacoma signed petitions last month in support of the legislation, said Simon Lee, an elder at Tacoma Joong-Ang Presbyterian Church.

    "Many people are praying about that," Lee said.

    The state Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs this month passed a resolution in support of the bills, S1336 and HR367, saying it was doing so "in collaboration with the Korean community, numbering 46,880 in Washington state."

    "Once the U.S. grants asylum, the Yalu River will be flooded with refugees," predicted Park, whose monthly pay at a carpenter's shop in North Korea was equivalent to the cost of "about two chunks of bread."

    But the main reason for shedding light on conditions in North Korea is nothing short of bringing down the current regime, say Hong, Park and the pastor.

    They say North Koreans have been brainwashed -- to hate the Untied States and distrust South Korea -- by Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, who preceded him as paramount leader.

    "While (Kim Jong Il) lives like royalty in Pyongyang, he keeps hundreds of thousands of his people locked in prison camps with millions more mired in abject poverty, scrounging the ground for food," said John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs, in a July speech in Seoul.

    "For many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare."

    Last week, a group of United Nations agencies asked for $221 million in international aid for North Korea, mostly for food.

    Hong said food sent by the U.S. to North Korea is diverted to the military, leaving the average citizen unaware of aid from the West.

    If starving North Koreans really knew how much better living conditions are in South Korea and the United States, she believes they would rise up and help "demolish the North Korean regime."

    To publicize the cause of defectors, the pastor has gathered dozens of first-person accounts and published them in books in Korean and English.

    The cover of the English version, "Axis of Evil," shows the face of Kim Jong Il suspended in the cloud of a nuclear blast, a not-so-subtle reference to North Korea's nuclear weapon ambitions.

    The book includes a statement by Hwang Jang Hyup, North Korea's highest-ranking defector, who visited Washington, D.C., for the first time late last month.

    "Kim Jong Il is a dictator who has starved millions of North Korean(s) to death. He also made North Korea into a gigantic prison," wrote Hyup, once chief of North Korea's Parliament.

    "Axis of Evil" includes photos of skeletal adults and children and gives accounts of desperate people eating bark, weeds, pig feed -- and humans, sometimes by people who have gone insane.

    Hong and Park say the reality is "worse than described" in the book.

    Until recent years, "the stories of the relatively few defectors were suspect, viewed as propaganda tools of the South Korean government," the Washington Post recently reported.

    But now, with defectors numbering at least in the tens of thousands, "their accounts have gained credibility by their number and their consistency, and by corroboration from the few outsiders who have worked in North Korea," the paper said, citing interviews with dozens of defectors in Seoul.

    To help defectors earn money to send to their families in North Korea, the Seattle-area pastor had them make crafts that they could sell when visiting U.S. churches, including wooden crosses and cross-stitched Christian images or messages.

    One cross-stitch pattern shows an outline of praying hands and the first 12 words of an oft-quoted prayer that may seem fitting for the situation in North Korea:
    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. ..."


    For information on efforts to help North Korean refugees, send an e-mail message to or call 425-773-2416 or 425-319-5543.
  15. oh my....i have no word....