North Korea's Concentration Camps Are Growing

A new report sheds disturbing light on the DPRK. Also: Does Dennis Rodman have any idea?

A new publication by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea shows the growth of concentration camps inside the country. From 150,000 to 200,000 citizens (that last figure comes courtesy of Amnesty International) are thought to be detained in one of at least six of the DPRK's internment facilities. In all but one, inhabitants are there for life.

The report contains recent satellite images of one such institution in the northeast of the country, known as Camp 25. The pictures show that the area of the internment center, which increased in size by 72 percent from 2009 to 2010, is still growing. Guards, sentry posts, and what are thought to be a crematory and gallows are all visible, helpfully pointed out here by the Washington Post.

In one of the most restricted countries in the world, little is known about life under Kim Jong Un, despite the best efforts of activists, such as filmmaker Ann Shin, whose documentary The Defector followed two women attempting to make it to China. Every minuscule rapprochement in policy, such as mobile Internet access for foreigners, which gives the world Instagram-size peeks at the country, is countered by grimness, from nuclear tests to rocket launches and verbal bellicosity against the rest of the world.

Following the emergence of these new images, the U.N. yesterday called for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea.

This came the same day as photos emerged of Dennis Rodman courtside with Kim Jong Un. The basketball legend, visiting the country alongside three Harlem Globetrotters and a team from Vice Media who are reportedly filming a documentary of the trip, was later invited to the dictator's palace for a party, an accolade that Eric Schmidt did not manage on his trip earlier this year.

[Image via The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea]

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12 Comments

  • JCDavis

    The only country in the world with more prisoners than North Korea on a per capita basis is the USA. We are the home of the un-free, but the UN never investigates us.

  • Abbi Orenstein

    maybe our goverment is too big to prosecute? when our dollar falls as the world currency (I blame the goverment mismanaging) that will change.

    but in the meantime it'll have to be up to us,. we should elect better people, dethrone the mainstream media because they are bought by the goverment, rally the other citizens, and remove them from power.

  • Abbi Orenstein

    Very poor argument, no sources, no discussion, just ad homium attacks.

    I can't even make a counter argument because there was nothing to work with... debate is very important to our society because it helps create new ideas and schools of thought. We become stronger as a species. Debate is decline I think, because people protecting the status quo wish things to remain as they are so they are trying to dumb us down. But we are not dumb, we maybe right, we may be wrong but we are not dumb. When the goverment wants you to be stupid intelligent people are rebels. Be the rebel I know is in there.

  • Abbi Orenstein

    Mainstream Media has made us sheeple because they are paid off. They choose whats important for us to hear. They choose what we care about. I don't care about celebrities I care about what happens to Bradly Manning and Occupy, and what new stupid threats to our bill of rights is being introduced. I care that the president approves of bombs being dropped on innocents, I care that our global poor and hungry could be fed, sheltered, and clothed on a tenth of our war budget. I care that our goverment budget people lost 90 trillion. just lost it no one knows where that is yet mainstream media is not informing us more on that. No, they think we care that Alex Baldwin lost his twitter account defending his wife when she was wrongly accused of tweeting during a funeral.

  • JCDavis

    WTF: After the fall of apartheid in the US, we twisted the drug laws to recreate it. Our incarceration rate shot up by a factor of 5 to a level not seen in any other country in the world. And who were we locking up? Black males predominately. In central cities, half of all black males will be imprisoned at some time or another. And our prisons are not nice places. We have some of the worst in the world. So yeah, not only can I compare our prisons to North Korea's, I can compare them to the entire world, because over the past thirty years we have become the land of the un-free.

  • WTF

    holy shit, are you for real? you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Two of my friends were held in North Korea, they were dragged over the boarder from South Korea in 2009.

    The fact that you're even comparing oppression and prisons in the US with North Korea speaks volumes of how legitimately naive you actually are.

  • Common Sense

    JCDAVIS - dumb - you and rodman share the same level of IQ. How is it that we are not free just because so many choose to break the law? Where are all the innocents locked up? Yes, SOME innocent people go to jail but that is the exception not the rule. What happens about 100 times more often is that the guilty go free and get a slap on the wrist and the rest of us have to live with those consequences (the consequences of people running around knowing they can break the law, infringe on others' rights and not have to pay any significant price).

    We have a very free society. In fact, people can make ridiculous statements like you just did and there is no fear of retribution (other than the embarrassment of showing your level of intelligence). If you lived in North Korea and made such a statement about it the government would have given you a permanent vacation to one of the prison camps talked about in this article, if they didn't execute you first. Yes, the US is worse the North Korea....brilliant.

  • Mystery240

    There are levels of freedom, and in comparison to North Korea, yes, we do possess a much greater freedom, and for that I am very thankful. However, this gratitude does not mean one must dismiss all the injustices in the USA, particularly in the prison system. The percentage of the population in prison has doubled in the last 20 years, mostly due to the Drug War. As a result of this country's Draconian drug laws, we now have a criminal justice system which is clogged with drug cases (which costs the taxpayer more money), an ever growing private prison industry that fights for increased drug penalties and increased incarcerations (which costs the taxpayer more money), leaves families without resources and thus more dependent on government services (which costs the taxpayer more money), and devours time and resources that law enforcement could be dedicating to crimes that directly threaten public safety (which....well, you can figure out the rest.)

  • Marco Ravicci

    Two incompatible visions of life are fighting one another. 'Between democracy and totalitarianism,' says Mussolini, 'there can be no compromise.' The two creeds cannot even, for any length of time, live side by side. So long as democracy exists, even in its very imperfect English form, totalitarianism is in deadly danger. The whole English-speaking world is haunted by the idea of human equality, and though it would be simply a lie to say that either we or the Americans have ever acted up to our professions, still, the idea is there, and it is capable of one day becoming a reality. From the English-speaking culture, if it does not perish, a society of free and equal human beings will ultimately arise. But it is precisely the idea of human equality - the 'Jewish' or 'Judaeo-Christian' idea of equality - that Hitler came into the world to destroy. He has, heaven knows, said so often enough. The thought of a world in which black men would be as good as white men and Jews treated as human beings brings him the same horror and despair as the thought of endless slavery brings to us.

    It is important to keep in mind how irreconcilable these two viewpoints are. Some time within the next year a pro-Hitler reaction within the left-wing intelligentsia is likely enough. There are premonitory signs of it already. Hitler's positive achievement appeals to the emptiness of these people, and, in the case of those with pacifist leanings, to their masochism. One knows in advance more or less what they will say. They will start by refusing to admit that British capitalism is evolving into something different, or that the defeat of Hitler can mean any more than a victory for the British and American millionaires. And from that they will proceed to argue that, after all, democracy is 'just the same as' or 'just as bad as' totalitarianism. There is not much freedom of speech in England; therefore there is no more than exists in Germany. To be on the dole is a horrible experience; therefore it is no worse to be in the torture-chambers of the Gestapo. In general, two blacks make a white, half a loaf is the same as no bread. 

    But in reality, whatever may be true about democracy and totalitarianism, it is not true that they are the same. It would not be true, even if British democracy were incapable of evolving beyond its present stage. The whole conception of the militarized continental state, with its secret police, its censored literature and its conscript labour, is utterly different from that of the loose maritime democracy, with its slums and unemployment, its strikes and party politics. It is the difference between land power and sea power, between cruelty and inefficiency, between lying and self-deception, between the S.S. man and the rent-collector. And in choosing between them one chooses not so much on the strength of what they now are as of what they are capable of becoming. But in a sense it is irrelevant whether democracy, at its highest or at its lowest, is 'better' than totalitarianism. To decide that one would have to have access to absolute standards. The only question that matters is where one's real sympathies will lie when the pinch comes. The intellectuals who are so fond of balancing democracy against totalitarianism and 'proving' that one is as bad as the other are simply frivolous people who have never been shoved up against realities. They show the same shallow misunderstanding of Fascism now, when they are beginning to flirt with it, as a year or two ago, when they were squealing against it. The question is not, 'Can you make out a debating-society "case" in favour of Hitler?' The question is, 'Do you genuinely accept that case? Are you willing to submit to Hitler's rule? Do you want to see England conquered, or don't you?' It would be better to be sure on that point before frivolously siding with the enemy. For there is no such thing as neutrality in war; in practice one must help one side or the other. 

    -George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn, 1941