Chongori concentration camp

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Chongori concentration camp
Chosŏn'gŭl 전거리 제12호 교화소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Jeon'geori Je12ho Gyohwaso
McCune–Reischauer Chŏn'gŏri Che12ho Kyohwaso
Chosŏn'gŭl 전거리 정치범 수용소
Hancha
Revised Romanization Jeon'geori Jeongchibeom Suyongso
McCune–Reischauer Chŏn'gŏri Chŏngch'ibŏm Suyongso

Chongori concentration camp (also spelled Jungeori, Jongori or Jeonger-ri) is a reeducation camp in North Korea. The official name of the camp is Kyo-hwa-so No. 12 (Reeducation camp no. 12).

Location[edit]

The camp is located near Chongori, a little village in Musan-ri (Chosŏn'gŭl: 무산리; MR: Musanri; RR: Musanri), Hoeryong county, at the road and railroad almost halfway between Hoeryong and Chongjin, North Hamgyong province in North Korea.[1] Chongori camp is situated at the end of a small valley 2.5 km (1.6 mi) southeast from the main valley in Pungsan-ri (Chosŏn'gŭl: 풍산리; MR: P'ungsanri; RR: Pungsanri) and Chongori.[2]

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

Description[edit]

Chongori concentration camp is a large prison compound, around 350 m (1,150 ft) long and 150 m (490 ft) wide. The main section is surrounded by a 8 m (26 ft) high wall, while the branch offices are surrounded with barbed wire and an electrified fence. In 2005 there used to be around 2000 prisoners, mostly non-political criminals, but often sentenced there for desperate offences such as stealing food. They are guarded by around 300 prison guards with machine guns.[3] From 2006 on the number of prisoners increased significantly,[4] as many defectors deported from China were arrested in Chongori camp.[5] Theoretically, prisoners should be released after reeducation through labor and serving their sentence, but since the prison sentences are very long and the conditions are very harsh, many do not survive their prison sentences. A former prisoner estimates, that during his eight months of detention, around 800 prisoners died from hard labor and sub-subsistence level food rations.[6]

Purpose[edit]

Main purpose of Chon­gori camp is to punish people for usual crimes or political crimes, e. g. illegal border crossing. But the prisoners are also used as slave workers, who have to do hard and dangerous work 14 hours a day.[5] There is a copper ore mine, a logging section,[3] a furniture factory and a farming section in the camp.[7]

Human rights situation[edit]

The prisoners in Chongori concentration camp live in crowded, dirty, insect-infested rooms without heating, while there is just one washing room for 1000 prisoners.[8] Because of these bad hygienic conditions, in the summer of 2003 around 190 prisoners died from an infectious disease according to Lee Jun Ha.[9] 70 prisoners sleep in a room made for 20, lying on the floor without pillows or blankets.[10]

Prisoners get only 140 grams of rice three times a day, while being forced to do hard labor such as logging with iron chains.[11] Often prisoners are killed [12] or crippled in work accidents, as they have to do dangerous work with primitive means.[13] A former prisoner reported of accidental deaths every several days in the furniture factory due to antiquated machines and prisoners seldom getting more than five hours of sleep per night.[14] Virtually every day after work and before getting dinner, prisoners have to engage in mutual criticism sessions[14] and get less food in case of flaws or shortcomings.[15] Prisoners are so hungry, that they eat even grass and corn in cow feces.[16] Lee Jun Ha estimates that around 30 to 40 people died from malnutrition, work accidents or torture each month and were burnt on a nearby mountain.[17]

Prisoners are regularly subject to beatings,[18] torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrarily at the guards' mercy.[19] In case a prisoner breaks a rule, he is tortured and confined many days or weeks in a solitary cell, only 1 m² (10.76 square feet) large, where he could not stretch his legs.[20] As additional punishment, they only get 1/3 of the usual food rations.[21] Summary executions were carried out several times per year in case of escape attempts.[22]

Kwon Hyo-jin has painted the various forms of torture he witnessed, such as “pigeon torture”, “crane torture”, “airplane torture”, and “knee joint torture”, in a series of drawings.[23] Other human rights violations and forced labor in Chongori camp are featured in further drawings for an exhibition on political prison camps in North Korea.

Prisoners (Witnesses)[edit]

  • Lee Jun Ha (2000–2005 in Chongori) was imprisoned, because he accidentally killed his uncle.[24]
  • Kwon Hyo-jin (around 2001 – 2008 in Chongori) was imprisoned, because he helped defectors to get to China. He is an artist in ceramics, painting and calligraphy and painted drawings of his experience in Chongori camp.[23]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Hidden Gulag – Satellite imagery (p. 227)". The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ One Free Korea: Camp 12 – Chon­gori camp with satellite photographs
  3. ^ a b The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 8 “What Does the No.12 Reeducation Camp Look Like?”
  4. ^ KINU White paper on human rights in North Korea 2009 (Chapter G. Human Rights Violations Inside Political Concentration Camps (Kwanliso), page 101)
  5. ^ a b Chosun Ilbo: “N. Korea in brutal crackdown on defectors”, Chosun Ilbo, September 1, 2009
  6. ^ "The Hidden Gulag – Exposing Crimes against Humanity in North Korea’s Vast Prison System (p. 88)". The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ "6.2.3 Working Facilities and Production (p. 386 – 387)", Prisoners in North Korea Today, Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, July 15, 2011, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  8. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 9 “No. 12 Prison, My Home for a While”
  9. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 31 “Infectious Disease Sweeps the Prison”
  10. ^ "6.3.3 Provision of Living Necessities (p. 402)", Prisoners in North Korea Today, Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, July 15, 2011, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  11. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 19 “Logging on the Mountain”
  12. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 26 “Fighting Frozen Weather on the Mountain”
  13. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 18 “The Wagon of Spite”
  14. ^ a b "The Hidden Gulag – Exposing Crimes against Humanity in North Korea’s Vast Prison System (p. 86)". The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "6.3.5 Life in Prison (p. 426)", Prisoners in North Korea Today, Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, July 15, 2011, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  16. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 13 “A Cruel Realization about the Nature of Man”
  17. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 25 “Mount Bulmang's Tragic Harvest”
  18. ^ "6.5.3 Torture and Violence (p. 443–444)", Prisoners in North Korea Today, Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, July 15, 2011, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  19. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 6 “Beatings, Rape, Torture, Atrocities Every Day”
  20. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 21 “Twenty Days in Solitary”
  21. ^ "6.2.4 Solitary Confinement (p. 393)", Prisoners in North Korea Today, Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, July 15, 2011, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  22. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 24 “Summary Execution of a Runaway from the Camp”
  23. ^ a b "Where love does not exist: Chongori prison changing into an exclusive camp for punishment of North Korean defectors". Sage Korea. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  24. ^ The Daily NK: Lee Jun Ha’s Prison Tales 2 “Seven Years for Murdering my Alcoholic Uncle”

Coordinates: 42°12′36″N 129°45′13″E / 42.209925°N 129.753658°E / 42.209925; 129.753658