"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

03 May 2011

'Life of hard labour' in North Korean camp

Kang Cheol-hwan Kang Cheol-hwan says new images of the camp he lived in show that it has grown
In the living room of my apartment in Seoul, Kang Cheol-hwan pores over satellite photographs of the place he once lived.
Known as labour camp number 15, in Yodok, North Korea, it is perhaps one of the world's most secret places.
"It was a life of hard labour," he says. "Thirty per cent of new prisoners would die. And we were so malnourished, we would eat rats and earthworms to survive."
Cheol-hwan lived in Yodok for a decade - paying the price for "political crimes" committed by his family.
Amnesty International says there are signs the number of people being sent to North Korea's political prison camps is growing, and that the new satellite maps show the system is thriving.
Torture reports Cheol-hwan traces the outline of the camp on the map with his finger - snaking through North Korea's mountainous countryside.
New rows of buildings have appeared in one section of the camp. They are not there in photographs from a decade ago.
Satellite image of Yodok prison camp taken on 7 April 2011 (Image: Amnesty International/Digital Globe) Satellite image of Yodok prison camp taken on 7 April 2011 (Image: Amnesty International/Digital Globe)
"This is the guards' block," he points out. "And it's grown. I assume it's because they need a bigger security presence now."
I ask him where he lived and he points to a row of box-like houses a few hundred metres from the guard block, a single road leading in and out.
Reports from inside the camps are scarce. But many of those who do speak out tell horrific stories of torture, starvation and summary executions.
The new Amnesty report details accounts of water-boarding, sleep deprivation, bamboo pieces placed under the fingernails and imprisonment - sometimes for months on end - inside a 4ft (1.22m) by 4ft cell.
Cheol-hwan remembers the prison block inside his camp, where the troublesome inmates were kept. It was where torture and beatings took place, he says.
'No return' News is already filtering through the North Korean community here in Seoul of a wider crackdown taking place back home.
There is talk of listening posts, border fences and a sharp rise in public executions.
Kang Cheol-ho runs a church for North Korean defectors. He gets new arrivals every month and says the reports just get worse.
"I'm getting more and more dire testimonies all the time," he said. "That the clampdown is worse, the food situation is more severe and the authorities are making it clear, if you try and escape the country, you'll never get another chance.
"Nowadays, you'll be sent to one of these camps from which you may never return."

The rest of the story is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13268857

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