Pukchang concentration camp

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Pukchang concentration camp
Chosŏn'gŭl 북창 제18호 관리소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Bukchang Je 18 ho Gwalliso
McCune–Reischauer Pukch'ang Che 18 ho Kwalliso
Chosŏn'gŭl 북창 정치범 수용소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Bukchang Jeongchibeom Suyongso
McCune–Reischauer Pukch'ang Chŏngch'ibŏm Suyongso

Pukch'ang concentration camp (Hangeul: 북창 제18호 관리소, also spelled Bukchang) is a labor camp in North Korea for political prisoners. It is sometimes called Tŭkchang concentration camp (Hangeul: 득장 제18호 관리소, also Deukjang or Dukjang). The official name is Kwan-li-so (Penal-labor colony) No. 18.

Location[edit]

The camp is located in Pukchang County and Tukchang district, P'yŏngan-namdo province in North Korea. It is situated along the middle reaches of Taedong river, which forms the northern boundary of the camp, and also includes the mountains south of the river. On the other side of Taedong river adjoins Kaechon internment camp (Kwan-li-so No. 14).[1]

Description[edit]

Pukchang concentration camp is located in North Korea
Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pukchang
Pukchang
Location of Pukchang camp in North Korea

According to the former leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea Hwang Jang-yop, Pukchang camp is the oldest North Korean prison camp and was already erected by 1958.[2] Like in Yodok camp there is one section for political prisoners in lifelong detention and another part similar to reeducation camps. Possibly these sections were completely separated earlier and therefore there are the two names Pukchang and Tukchang.[3] While all the other political prison camps belong to the state security, Pukchang camp is run by the interior ministry.[4] In some cases political prisoners were deported to Kaechon camp, while their relatives (parents, children, siblings, grandchildren) were deported to Pukchang camp. Only based on their kinship they are classified as politically unreliable and are imprisoned without any lawsuit or conviction.

The camp is around 73 km2 (28 sq mi) in area[5] and is surrounded by a 4 m high fence.[6] There are several prison labor colonies with barracks for the prisoners and housing for the guards, for which they are called 4th division, 5th division and 6th division. Family members are often allowed to live together. Altogether around 50,000 prisoners live in Pukchang concentration camp.[7] Kim Yong even reported about foreign prisoners, but there is no other source to confirm this.[8]

Purpose[edit]

Pukchang camp isolates politically unreliable persons for lifetime from society. It was established to exploit the prisoners with hard and dangerous labor. Within the camp borders there are at least five coal mines,[9] where all capable prisoners have to work from early in the morning to late in the evening. Furthermore there is a cement factory and some other factories.[10]

Human Rights Situation[edit]

Kim Hye-sook has described the human rights situation in detail and testified to the Canadian Parliament and to the British Parliament. Rules in Pukchang camp seem to be slightly less strict compared to the human rights situation in other political prison camps.[11] But also in this camp, prisoners are shot in cases of escape attempts, theft of food or violations of instructions.[12] Kim witnessed more than 100 public executions per year with prisoners being tortured and then shot or hanged as a deterrent to the other prisoners.[13]

The most common causes of death are persistent malnutrition, work accidents and illnesses.[14] Kim reported that in the 1990s her family only received 7 kg (15 lb) of corn per month and occasionally some bean paste (Doenjang) or salt.[15][16] In order to survive they had to search for edible plants, leaves and insects.[17][18] She saw many bodies of starved or executed people lying all around the roads[19] and even reported cases of cannibalism.[20] Since the prisoners have to work 16 – 18 hours in the mines every day without any protection, after few years most suffer from pneumoconiosis and many die from it. Kim developed a pulmonary tumor because of the inhaled dust.[21] Work accidents often lead to limb amputations. Many children have frostbite, because they have no shoes and have to go barefoot even in winter.[22]

Kim reported that the prisoners have no human rights and are treated at the guards’ mercy. To humiliate the prisoners, the guards would force them to get on their knees, and then spit into the prisoner's mouths and make them swallow the spit. If prisoners do not immediately obey, they are savagely beaten.[23] The prisoners are monitored almost continuously by security agents and are urged to spy on each other and to denounce other prisoners.[24]

Prisoners (Witnesses)[edit]

  • Kim Yong (1996 - 1998 in Pukchang) was at first imprisoned in Kaechon camp, when his relationship (which he covered up) to his father and brother, who both were executed as alleged US spies, was identified. Later he was relocated to Pukchang after intervention of his former boss.[25]
  • Kim Hye Sook (1975 – 2002 in Pukchang) was imprisoned at the age of 13 years, because her grandfather tried to escape to South Korea.[26][27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: Satellite Imagery of the North Korean Gulag: Kwan-li-so No. 18 Bukchang Overview, p. 209
  2. ^ Federation of American Scientists: Hwang Jang-yop speaks
  3. ^ ”Curious about Dukjang Gulag Where Jeong Ha Cheol Has Been Imprisoned?”, The Daily NK, December 14, 2005
  4. ^ The 9th International Conference on North Korea Human Rights and Refugees, Melbourne, March 20, 2009 (page 28)
  5. ^ ”North Koreas Hard Labor Camps“ with interactive map, Washington Post, July 20, 2009
  6. ^ "Life & Human Rights in North Korea, Vol. 60; Witness Account: Twenty-eight Years of My life in Political Prisoner Camp (Gwalliso) No.18 (p. 24)". Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: The Hidden Gulag (Section: Testimony Kwan-li-so No. 18 Bukchang, p. 69 - 70)
  8. ^ “N Korean officer saw ‘Westerners’ at prison camp”, ABC News, October 23, 2003
  9. ^ Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: Satellite Imagery North Korean Gulag: Kwan-li-so No. 18 Bukchang 4th and 5th Division, p. 219
  10. ^ Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: Satellite Imagery North Korean Gulag: Kwan-li-so No. 18 Bukchang 4th and 5th Division, p. 220
  11. ^ "Kim Hye-sook: 'I saw prisoners turned to honeycomb by the bullets'". The Independent, July 13, 2011 (London). July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Subcommittee on International Human Rights, 40th Parliament, 3rd session, February 1, 2011: Testimony of Ms. Hye Sook Kim (section 1320)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Life & Human Rights in North Korea, Vol. 60; Witness Account: Twenty-eight Years of My life in Political Prisoner Camp (Gwalliso) No.18 (p. 30)". Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ "The Hidden Gulag: Kwan-li-so political panel-labor colonies (section Testimony Kwan-li-so No. 18 "Bukchang") (p. 69 - 70)". Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Subcommittee on International Human Rights, 40th Parliament, 3rd session, February 1, 2011: Testimony of Ms. Hye Sook Kim (section 1310)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Escaping North Korea’s prison (radio interview with Kim Hye-sook, 30th June 2011) (about 0:30)". BBC News. June 30, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs". North Korea Freedom Coalition. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "28 Jahre Gulag – Frau Kim erzählt von der Hölle". Die Welt, April 15, 2012 (in German). Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ "A Tale From the Hermit Kingdom: One woman’s desperate plight in a North Korean concentration camp". The Epoch Times, February 3, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Inside N. Korea’s Prisons: Moms Kill Children to Survive". CBN News, October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Life & Human Rights in North Korea, Vol. 60; Witness Account: Twenty-eight Years of My life in Political Prisoner Camp (Gwalliso) No.18 (p. 25)". Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Life & Human Rights in North Korea, Vol. 60; Witness Account: Twenty-eight Years of My life in Political Prisoner Camp (Gwalliso) No.18 (p. 29)". Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Subcommittee on International Human Rights, 40th Parliament, 3rd session, February 1, 2011: Testimony of Ms. Hye Sook Kim (section 1315)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Escaping North Korea’s prison (radio interview with Kim Hye-sook, 30th June 2011) (about 1:15)". BBC News. June 30, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  25. ^ Committee for Human Rights in North Korea: The Hidden Gulag (Section: Testimony Kwan-li-so No. 18 Bukchang, p. 76)
  26. ^ ”Freedom from Morbid Concentration Camp – and then Gloomy Fate”, The Daily NK, April 25, 2011
  27. ^ The Independent, "Kim Hye-sook: 'I saw prisoners turned to honeycomb by the bullets'", 13 July 2011; retrieved 18 July 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°32′46″N 126°03′48″E / 39.546164°N 126.063223°E / 39.546164; 126.063223