Asians sex camp prisoners
The genocide in Darfur had George Clooney to raise awareness, and orphans had Angelina Jolie. For one thing, there is a more critical mass of defector testimony.
A decade ago only some 3,000 North Koreans had escaped and made it to tell their stories in the South; today the number is around 25,000.
In another first, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay met with gulag survivors in December on the grounds that they had been ignored too long, and she helped lead the 47-member UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to vote unanimously for the inquiry."Because of the enduring gravity of the situation," Ms.
Pillay said in January, "an in-depth inquiry into one of the worst – but least understood and reported – human rights situations ...
Six camps called kwan-li-so are purely for political pris-oners.
Another seven or eight called kyo-hwa-so house a mix of political and ordinary felons.
Hawk, surveying prison-defector testimony dating to 1970, says change is mainly seen on the margins, in rituals, for example: "We used to hear about public executions where prisoners were later required to walk by and stone or strike the corpse.
This was standard in descriptions of camp life two decades ago, but not lately.
Part of the reason, say some, is the lack of a high-profile face lobbying for change. Yet with the UN inquiry, new and diverse lights are starting to shine on one of the darkest places on earth.
The big question is whether the number of newly arrived prisoners is making up for the deaths of current prisoners," he says.
It is camp policy to underfeed and overwork gulag inmates. Others describe how they picked through animal feces to find undigested corn kernels in order to survive. Labor is unpaid, 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week with one "rest day" off per month.
Public executions are still seen by every prisoner; but the practice of compulsory defilement may have stopped."Still, Hawk says, "Recent testimony suggests nothing is different....
The barbaric nature of these places has not changed."Ten years ago conditions in the Korean gulag were protested by figures like Czech poet-president Václev Havel.
Prisoners stay alive by finding lizards, rats, and mushrooms, and go hungry even in camps that export vegetables to Pyongyang."Without variation, each meal consisted of 14 beans per meal with powdered corn," offers a Mrs. Koreans can be sent "to the mountains," as it is known, for crimes of "wrong thinking." These might range from criticism of the Kim family to attempting to leave the country, professing religious faith, humming a South Korean song, or being born of mixed race or to a family that has had members deemed insufficiently loyal.