Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Brainwashing, surveillance, fear in N Korea

18 February 2014, 09:20

Geneva - Brainwashed from birth, under constant surveillance, cowed by the all-embracing state and facing the spectre of disappearing forever in its vast network of camps if they step out of line.

The cruel lot of North Koreans was spotlighted on Monday in a landmark report by a UN-mandated human rights panel, which said it was time for government officials to face international justice.

Its 400 pages were filled with shocking testimony from North Koreans who have managed to escape the clutches of the totalitarian, nuclear-armed government.

Among the most shocking stories gathered by the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea were those from the "kwanliso" political prison camps, evoking the darkest chapters of world history.

"One of the witnesses from one of the camps told of how his duties included gathering up the bodies of those who had died of starvation and putting them in a pot and burning them," said the commission's chair, Australian former top judge Michael Kirby.

The ex-inmate then took the ash and remaining body parts to be used as fertiliser in nearby fields.

"When you see that image in your mind of bodies being burned, and of parts of bodies, unfortunately it does bring back to those, certainly of my age, memories of the end of the Second World War," the 74-year-old told reporters.

Barred by Pyongyang, the commission based its report on testimony from 320 North Korean exiles - dubbed "human scum" by Pyongyang.

It said that many more were afraid to speak out, fearing the harm that the government could inflict on relatives, or its history of abducting defectors from the countries where they have found a haven.

The government denies the existence of camps in the country, but the report said that stance was disproved by testimony from former prisoners, guards and neighbours, plus satellite imagery.

Public executions

Between 80 000 and 120 000 people are thought to be held in North Korean camps, including generations of whole families arrested for alleged political crimes under collective guilt rules.

Hundreds of thousands of others were believed to have perished in the camps over the past half century, "gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture", the report said.

Drawings by a former prisoner published in the report detailed torture methods with names including "pigeon", "aeroplane" and "motorcycle" - anodyne names for brutal methods.

Prisoners were also used for martial arts practice, forced to have abortions if they fell pregnant, and lived on rodents and leaves.

The report also pointed to allegations that political prisoners were killed in medical experiments conducted to test the impact of chemical and biological weapons.

It said, however, that it was not in a position to verify the accuracy of such claims, nor those regarding medical experiments on hospitals for the disabled.

But it said it did have clear evidence that chemicals were forced into women's vaginas to force abortions.

For those outside the camps, public executions and the fear of imprisonment were a tool to "terrorise" the population, whose daily life was marked by constant "surveillance, coercion, fear and punishment to preclude the expression of any dissent", the report said.

It detailed the use of public executions with machine guns, with entire school classes brought to watch.

"At the age of nine, Mr. Kim Hyuk witnessed his first public execution," it said.

Another witness, Choi Young-hwa, was aged 16 when he saw a factory manager shot for "espionage" after dismal economic performance.

"He remembered being afraid and thinking that anyone could become a victim of such executions," the report said.

Factory workers were also taken to watch such slayings.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...