North Korea


Satellite image of Kwanliso 15 (Political Prison Camp 15, or PPC15) at Yodok in central North Korea, taken on 07 April 2011. © 2011 DigitalGlobe, Inc

Irrefutable Satellite Evidence of Prison Camps in North Korea

In 2011 Amnesty International in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science obtained new satellite imagery that, when compared to images from 2001, demonstrates the significant increase in the scale of the political prison camps in North Korea that are believed to have existed since the 1950s. Satellite images show six camps occupying huge areas of land and located in vast wilderness sites in South Pyongan, South Hamkyung and North Hamkyung provinces.

Satellite images reveal the location and size of the camps, where prisoners were forced to work in conditions approaching slavery, while the testimonies of 15 former inmates and prison guards describe executions, torture and shocking treatment in one of the harshest penal regimes in the world. They are held in the direst conditions, forced to do manual labor, subjected to torture, denied adequate nutrition, exposed to the elements, and made to watch public executions. The majority of prisoners, including some of those 'guilty-by-association', are held in areas known as 'Total Control Zones' from which they will never be released.

An estimated 200,000 people are detained in the network of camps, many for "guilt-by-association" - for being related to a detainee. The majority of prisoners, including those 'guilty-by-association', are held in 'Total Control Zones' from which they will never be released. A significant proportion of those in camps do not even know what crimes they are accused of.

Amnesty International believes the camps have been in operation since the 1950s, yet only three people are ever known to have escaped Total Control Zones and managed to leave North Korea. About 30 are known to have been released from the Revolutionary Zone at Political Prison Camp in Yodok and managed to leave North Korea. According to the testimony of a former detainee at the revolutionary zone in the political prison camp at Yodok, an estimated 40 per cent of inmates died from malnutrition between 1999 and 2001.

The satellite images combined with testimonies provide irrefutable evidence of the existence, location, and scale of political prison camps in North Korea, which the government can no longer deny.

 


North Korea, Political Prison Camp: Waterboarding B Roll Still;
© Amnesty International)
     

North Korea, Political Prison Camp: Solitary confinement cell still from B-Roll;
© Amnesty International