• Sheet of paper Report

North Korea: New satellite images show continued investment in the infrastructure of repression

December 2, 2013

In October 2013, Amnesty International commissioned analysis of satellite images of political prison camp (kwanliso) 15 at Yodok in South Hamgyong province and kwanliso 16 at Hwaseong in North Hamgyong province. The images show that instead of heeding the growing calls for closing its political prison camps, repression by the North Korean authorities has continued and the prisoner population in kwanliso 16 appears to have slightly increased. The North Korean authorities’ on-going investment in the country’s political prison camps is part of the continuing systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights throughout the country.

In order to circumvent the unwillingness of the North Korean authorities to allow human rights investigators access, Amnesty International and others have used remote sensing tools, such as satellite imagery, to provide more information about the human rights situation in North Korea. Previous satellite image analysis released by Amnesty International suggests the use and expansion of North Korea’s notorious political prison camps, and the blurring of the boundary between kwanliso 14 and surrounding villages.

This new document provides comprehensive assessments of kwanliso 15 and 16 at Yodok and Hwaseong respectively. Kwanliso 16 is the largest political prison camp in North Korea. The analysis is complemented by testimony from a former prison guard of kwanliso 16 and survivors from kwanliso 15, describing the system of repression from first-hand experience.

The North Korean government continues to engage in the systematic violation of almost the entire range of human rights and denies access to independent human rights investigators, including the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (CoI-DPRK), Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.