Foreign and Defense Policy, Asia

North Korea, prison state

On Tuesday, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released an important report, titled The Hidden Gulag, which serves as a potent reminder of the nature of the Pyongyang regime. North Korea maintains a terrifying gulag system, in which as many as 200,000 people are imprisoned. From the executive summary:

Part Two describes the phenomena of repression associated with the North Korean kwan-li-so political penal labor colonies where scores of thousands of political prisoners – along with up to three generations of members of their families – are banished, deported, imprisoned without any judicial process, and subjected to slave labor for mostly lifetime sentences in mining, logging or various agricultural enterprises operating within a half-dozen sprawling encampments, enclosed in barbed wires and electrified fences, mostly in the north and north central mountains of North Korea. The report describes who the political prisoners are: real, suspected or imagined wrong-doers and wrong-thinkers, or persons with wrong-knowledge and/or wrong-associations who have been deemed to be irremediably counter-revolutionary and pre-emptively purged from North Korean society.

This part also provides an overview of the prison-labor camp system: the guilt-by-association collective punishment, forced disappearances and incommunicado detention without trial, systemic and severe mistreatment, induced malnutrition, slave labor and exorbitant rates of deaths in detention, informants and intra-prisoner hostilities, executions and other extreme punishments, sexual relations, “marriage” and prison camp “schools,” the sexual exploitation of women prisoners, prisoner releases, the economic role of the forced labor camps, and the complete removed from any protection of law, along with arbitrary and extra-judicial nature of the systems.

Read the rest here, if you can stomach it.

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