Life Inside a North Korean Prison CampJune 9, 2009
The news has been buzzing with reports of the two U.S. journalists who were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with hard labor in North Korea. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were convicted of an unspecified “grave crime” after they were arrested in March while investigating human rights abuses of North Korean women.
The conviction is outrageous and Amnesty International is calling for the pair’s immediate release. The U.S. government is also scrambling to negotiate their release.
But in the mean time, what do Lee and Ling face in a North Korean labor camp? Amnesty’s own T. Kumar was asked just that by John Roberts on CNN this morning. His responses show the horrifying fate in store for anyone sent to one of these camps. Here is an excerpt from Kumar’s interview:
John Roberts: If they were sent to one of these prison camps or hard labor camps, what kind of conditions would they encounter based on the studies you’ve done?
T. Kumar: We have to divide the situation into two categories. First is about the living conditions. The living conditions are extremely harsh. It’s overcrowded, very little food and very little, if any, medical attention. Then every day they have to work for more than ten hours. Very hard labor starting from breaking stones to working in the mines. And very little food again during the day.
Roberts: Very high rates of death in detention among these prisoners?
Kumar: Yes. It’s a combination of facts why the deaths are occurring. Number one, it’s hard and forced labor. Second, it’s lack of food. And unhygienic environment…There is no medical attention at all in many cases. So combined of all of these issues, [there is a] very large number of people who die in these prison camps.