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Yong Kim
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Date :
2016-06-22 14:26:53
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            In May 1993, I was arrested while working as a representative of Asahai Trading Company of Japan under the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the State Security Department. According to them, the reason they arrested me was that I fabricated my record to infiltrate the State Security Department. Straight after being arrested, I was sent to a special area in Maram of Ryongseong District in Pyongyang City to be questioned. What they asked was, “Why did you infiltrate the State Security Department? Why did a son of a spy like you pretend to be a patriot?”

            What the officers of the State Security Department did to me was beyond any descriptions. They stuck a 5×5rectangular lumber under my calves to step on me with their boots while I was kneeling on the ground. They put handcuffs on my hands, and tied me up just high enough that my toes would barely touch the ground. At night, they put me in a solitary confinement, and filled up the room with water until it touched my belly button so that I wouldn’t fall asleep. Due to the repeated tortures, as I became unconscious, they beat me up. It went on like that continuously. During the tortures, I was taken to a center in Munsu near Taedong River in Pyongyang City. For the three months of torturing, I was between life and death. In the end, I tried to confess to their demands in despair, but the problem was that I knew nothing. As I was sent to an orphanage in the age of four, rather than being loved by my parents, I live and went to school there. Therefore, I grew up to be a very ardent patriot to my country and our Leader Il-sung Kim probably more than my parents were. In conclusion, I did nothing other than working hard loyally for my country and my leaders.

Additionally, they showed me the statements of my mother and father-Captain Kim, Cheolman, the representative of the resident registration in the Safety Security of Sohung County in North Hwanghae-do Province, and forced me to confess the truth that I conspired with the two. After these three months of torments, I was finally sent to a different place in August 1993. After being in a jeep with other prisoners for five hours from Pyongyang to an unknown location, passing five guard posts, the car finally stopped. One of the guards made me get out of the car. Being puzzled, as I got out of the car and looked around, he shouted at me to put my head on the ground. A little later, he and another guard exchanged some documents, and talked for a while. As an outside vehicle is not allowed, they dropped me off and left. 

Afterward, I got into another jeep car as they ordered me to do so. When I stepped into the car, they kicked my head with their boots and stepped on my head so it could touch the ground, swearing.  At that moment, I thought that I would be dead soon, and tears started to pour out of my eyes. Finally, we arrived at a storehouse where they took all the prisoners belongings. Throwing me a rag, the guards ordered me to take off everything including my underwear. After changing into the rag and standing blankly, they suddenly started to swear at me again, and made me kneel on the ground, sticking my head on the ground. Later, I realized that it was one of the rules of No. 14 prison-whenever a guard passed by, all prisoners should put their hands on their backs, kneel, and keep their foreheads on the ground. Only after the guards were out of sight, we could go to the opposite way. A little later, two people took me to a place called No.2 Mine in Mujin, which was in the middle of a mountain. After a while, I found out that the officer, who took me, was in charge of me. From that time on, my nightmares in No.14 prisoner political camp or No.2 Mine in Mujin began.

Previously, as I used to work for the State Security Department, I knew that I would never be able to see the outside world again once I went in. The political prisoner camp, which was made in 1972 under the order of Leader Il-sung Kim, was managed by the State Security Department. In 1968 before the camp was built, Leader Kims ordered to designate twelve special areas near the Demilitarized Zone in Hwanghae-do Province: Kaesong, Kumchon, Ryongyeon, Changyon, Anak, Eullyul, Chwiya, Jangpung, Kaepung, Panmun, and so on. Afterwards, families who defected to the South; people who were into policing during the Korean war; landowners; and pro-Japanese related ones, were loaded onto cargo trains to isolate them by the Social Security Department, supposedly for prisoner exchanges. There, these people were complete cut off from outside, not even allowed to exchange any mails. Furthermore, among those, the ones with the heaviest crimes were imprisoned in newly-made political prisoner camps as they converted regular ones in Kaechon and Susong at that time. There were ten political prisoner camps in North Korea built similarly. In No.14 prisoner camp that I was in were 15,000 prisoners, including children, English, and Americans, who were captured during the Korean War. Foreign prisoners were treated even more harshly because Leader Kim ordered to show them the striking development of North Korea clearly.

North Korea doesn’t care about the public opinions and criticism of the world. They keep on claiming that time may have changed, but the target of the revolution based on the principle from the 6th WorkersParty Conference hasn’t. Thats why not only offenders, but also their second and third generations continue suffering in North Korea. In No.14, men and women were imprisoned separately because they thought that there shouldn’t be any increased family of reactionaries. If a family came in, children under twelve were imprisoned with their mother, but their father was put separately until the children reached fourth grade. When they became twelve, they got separated according to their gender. In 1990, there was a riot of prisoners in No.14. As a result of this uprising, 1,500 people were shot and discarded in a closed mine. After that, all the prison gates were changed to iron, and at the end of each day, the metal doors were locked tight, and only opened in the morning.

On October 1993, when I was first imprisoned, I labored in a valley full of chestnut trees so the mountains were a full of chestnuts in fall but security was terribly severe in the area. If we were caught climbing a mountain, we were instantly killed in any case, so we were reluctant to grab any chestnuts, which were everywhere. One day, a fifty-three-year old trolley driver supposedly named of Kwang-Soo Kim stopped his car in an attempt to pick some chestnuts on the road. Unfortunately, he was caught by a guard, who shouted at him to stop. At that time, I was in a tunnel in mine carrying supporting beams. When I heard the shout, I looked towards Kim and the guard, whose nickname was “Wasp,” for his exceptionally mean character. However, Kim was too obsessed with getting chestnuts that he didn’t realize Wasp heading towards him, and continued picking them up. The enraged guard kicked his waist and beat Kim up without mercy. Then, he took off his gun from his waist, stepped on Kims head and shot him in the forehead without any hesitation. Blood burst out of Kims mouth and head. The guard boasted that he deserved it, and ordered to another guard to get rid of the body. As the guard ran to Kim, and held the body, the mean killer shouted at him, “Are you feeling sorry for him? I said to get rid of him!!” Unavoidably, the guard reluctantly grabbed Kims legs and dragged him along the rail ties. The scene of the body getting hauled along the ties thumping was no different taking a carcass. In Kims hands, the two balls of the crushed chestnuts were clenched tightly. All the prisoners, who saw this, shivered with terror and fury. This is the reality of the political prisoner camp in North Korea.

Once, this happened when I was working at No.6 Pit in underground, drilling mines. No.1 Pit was 120m depth, while No.6 was 720m. My job there was loading stones into trolleys and transporting them to a mine hoist 200m depth. As it was my first time doing it, it was a task beyond my level. One day, there were too many stones to move, so I was frantically putting them into the trolley. Suddenly, I heard the guard Wasp shouting, so I naturally kneeled on the ground, placed my hands on my back, put my forehead on the ground while facing the walls, and stayed still until the guard would pass by, as all prisoners were supposed to. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a thwack, and stopped short, falling on the muddy mine floor. After a while time, I woke up and found out that there was a hole in my head, blood pouring out of it across my neck. The beast-like guard caused me pass out by hitting my head with his gun, and was bragging that every incompetent worker should be dead. I rose with the fury that I was determined to survive out from here and revenge him.

My partner, a fifty-seven-years-old man, used to be a very famous basketball player in North Korea. However, because his father had been a landowner, he was imprisoned in that political prisoner camp consequently. One day, he picked up a cow-tail whip, belonged to “Wasp,” but as he was so hungry, he ate it after soaking it in water. Next day, when “Wasp” found out that he was the thief, he endlessly beat him up in front of all the prisoners. He ordered another guard to get roundworms from a bathroom, stuck the roundworms into a stick, and shoved them into my passed-out partners mouth, shouting at him to eat them since they were also meat. By the night, my partner had a high fever and his whole