This is the secret prisons of the Kim Jong-un regime: torture, rape and cruel treatment as never before detailed

The human rights organization Korean Futurepublished a detailed report in which he shows, as never before, the interior of the prisons of the North Korean regime and describes through the testimony of the victims, the torture and cruel treatment to which common prisoners are subjected.-

The detainees manage to describe the extrajudicial executions, rape, forced abortions and torture to which they are subjected in prisons.

Through interviews with hundreds of survivors, witnesses and perpetrators of abuse who have fled the dictatorship of the Kim dynasty, the non-profit NGO reconstructed what life is like inside the penal system of one of the most secretive countries in the world.

Also, thanks to the use of digital models, satellite images and architectural analysis They managed to chart in detail what the regime’s prison facilities are like.

“The purpose of our report is basically to reveal the human rights violations that have taken place within North Korea’s penal systems. (It finds that even 10 years after the UN established a Commission of Inquiry, there are still widespread and systematic violations of human rights,” he said. kim jiwona researcher at Korea Future, who has offices in London, Seoul and The Hague.

A rendering of a North Korean jail

In addition to building 3D models of some of the places of detention, the NGO documented more than 1,000 cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, hundreds of cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence. As well as more than 100 cases of denial of the right to life, according to a publication by CNN.

“Comparable to the Soviet Gulag, the (North Korean) penal system is not about detaining and rehabilitating people sentenced by the courts in safe and humane facilities. Its purpose is not to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, “says the report, which adds, “it is isolating people from society whose behavior conflicts with upholding the singular authority of the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.”

The report manages to identify hundreds of regime members who have participated in violence and abuse.

Korea Future carried out a satellite mapping of 206 detention centers, in all North Korean provinces, where abuses committed personally by the dictatorship’s high-ranking officials take place.

Among the cases, the one of three people who were imprisoned for trying to cross the border stands out, this is considered a serious crime in that country.

The victims report that one of the women was forced to abort when she was seven or eight months pregnant; one of the men was fed just 80 grams of corn a day, a starvation diet that dropped his weight from 60 to 37 kilograms in just one month and forced him to find himself in the painful need to eat cockroaches and rodents.

Digital reconstruction of torture in North Korea
Representation of the punishments that prisoners receive in North Korea

Researchers from both Korea Future and the UN they claim that prisoners end up so dehumanized by the abuse that they begin to feel that they somehow deserve it.

Others simply do not have a concept of what human rights are to be able to measure the abuse to which they are subjected.

“They were always told from the prison, the correctional officers, that they had done something wrong. So they just thought they were bad people and for that reason, they were being punished. This was very ingrained in their mindset,” said Kim, the founder of Korea Future.

“They didn’t even realize they were being tortured,” he added.

A former inmate, who was detained for more than a year simply for complaining to authorities about her housing situation, compared her treatment to that of an animal.

Digital reconstruction of torture in North Korea
Prisoners in North Korea are forced into forced labor

“When we raise rabbits, we keep them in fenced-in burrows and feed them. (In prison), it was as if we were the rabbits, locked in a cell and receiving food behind bars…we were not treated as humans, but as some kind of animal,” the survivor told CNN.

His cell was so small that “we were sleeping in a zig-zag pattern and someone’s feet were touching my shoulders,” he said.

“We weren’t supposed to move in the cell and we had to sit with our hands at our sides and since we weren’t supposed to look up, we had to look down. We weren’t supposed to talk, so all you hear is the sound of people breathing,” he added.

“The detainees are re-educated through forced labor, ideological instruction and punitive brutality with the purpose of forcing them to unconditionally obey and be loyal to the Supreme Leader”, says a UN report.

Digital reconstruction of torture in North Korea
Representation of prisons in North Korea

One of the survivors who was detained several times for desertion, when trying to cross the border with China to look for work, recounted that he saw the prison guards rape detained women.

“I realised that the guards at the center raped the detainees at night. They asked some women to wash their clothes at night and when they went out the women raped them.”

He said he told an inspector what he had seen and was initially thanked for bringing up the matter, but was hit “very hard” shortly after by two men.

Soon after, “I thought I couldn’t live like this, so I broke the bedroom window and grabbed a piece of glass,” he said. “The police guard entered my room and in front of them I stabbed myself in the stomach.”

He also said that the men were beaten and forced to walk with their bodies bent at a right angle.

He also noted, in one of his detentions, that the conditions “improved” with respect to his first experience.

“In the past, we had to crawl on both hands and knees when we moved, but in 2017 we were able to stand and walk. All you needed was to bend your back 90 degrees forward as you moved,” she said.

Digital reconstruction of torture in North Korea
Illustration of a bathroom in a prison in North Korea

He assured that the first time he was imprisoned they were “accustomed to being called ‘sons of p…’, but in 2017, they called us ‘comrades’.”

The UN Special Rapporteur for North Korea, elizabeth salmonsaid this Monday that the closure of the borders of this country since the beginning of the pandemic the “secrecy” that surrounds it has increased even more.

“A wrong step in this matter could trigger a significant escalation with drastic consequences for human rights,” Salmón said in relation to the growing arms uncertainty in the country.

In presenting his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, that meets in GenevaSalmón indicated that communication between the United Nations and the North Korean regime is practically nil and warned that the population’s access to food and medicine is increasingly limited.

“There have been deaths during the cold waves in January and the women no longer have enough means to earn a living,” said Salmón.

The rapporteur influenced the torture suffered by women who are in detention centerswhere they are the object of acts of sexist violence and they are forced to work in construction and in the agri-food sector.

Digital reconstruction of torture in North Korea
3D rendering a North Korean officer forcing a detained person to undergo genital search

As for the women who do not try to flee North Korea, the report states that they are forced into prostitution due to the economic difficulties the country is going through and are now victims of extortion and sexual exploitation.

To deal with this situation, the UN has asked the North Korean authorities to assign female guards to women prisoners and to improve its policy in the field of sexist violence.

The rapporteur also referred to the strict measures imposed by North Korea to leave the country and to move within the interior.

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