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Life in the Kaechon Indoctrination Camp (2)
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2016-01-20 14:41:44
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 Life in the Kaechon Indoctrination Camp (2)

Sun Ok (Female, 53)

Passing Urine Only Once a Day 

Except about 8 hours - 5 hours of bedtime, an hour for; meals with a bread and 2 hours of review time before going to bed, alll inmates are spurred continuously to engage in hard labor for 16 hours a day. One of the most difficult problems for all inmates is to go to the lavatory. Every work site is equipped with one lavatory. All inmates are required to go there only in a group of 4 to 7 which forms a sub-team, the lowest unit organized at the work site. This means that if one wants to go to lthe lavatory, all members of the sub-team must move together, thus depriving them of the time to work. Therefore, everyone must endeavor to reduce the frequency of going there. Usually inmates are accustomed to defecating about once a week and passing urine once a day. 

There is a keeper at every lavatory. The keeper is chosen from among the old inmates who are too old to engage in ordinary labor. The inmate are ordered to use the lavatory under the watch of the keeper and sometimes, when the keeper is away from the lavatory, we must look for him or wait for him before going into the lavatory. 

At bedtime, one must refrain from going to the lavatory, because if one leaves where she is sleeping, then she will lose the space to lie down again. Usually inmates, as soon as they get up in the morning, stand in a row before the lavatory waiting for their turn. 

In North Korea, indoctrination camps are also ordered to earn foreign exchange. During my stay stheere, I remember that we had made some 800,000 artificiakl flowers ordered by France, some 500,000 handicraft articles ordered by Poland, and 6,000 sweaters ordered by Japan in 1990. Goods made in the camp are usually evaluated as excellent because the workers become skilled technicians after engaging in the same work for a long time. 

But due to hard labor, many inmates become crippled. Those who are engaged in the work of carrying heavy loads get sloping shoulders or suffer from pleurisy. Those who work with sewing machines get curved backbones like hunchbacks or suffer from stiff necks. One can tell how long an inmate has been there just looking at his or her physical conditions. 

Pigeon's Cage 

Those who violate regulations will face severe penalties. The lightest penalty will be confinement in a solitary ward for 7 days. Those who are found chatting with others raising their heads while answering the call of the guards, or quarreling with other inmates will be subjected tol this penalty. The solitary ward is only 1 meter in height and 60cm in width, and therefore, the detainee cannot but spend all day crouching down, even when eating and passing urine. The inmates used to call this ward a "pigeon's cage." In the camp there were about 20 such cages, but all of them were always occupied. 

The next heavy penalty is the punishment to clean the lavatory for 3 or 12 months. When given this punishment he or she must carry the stool to farms. The heaviest punishment is to be confined in a solitary ward of about 4 square yards for 6 months. Those who utter complaints or sabotage will be labelled "impure elements" and subjected to this punishment, which will be accompanied by horrible torture. When confined in this ward, one rarely escapes death. 

The camp is guarded by 8 meter-high walls with electric barbed wire fences. The first words an inmate is told upon entering the camp are warning that he or she must not approach the electric barbed wire fences. I once saw a pig burnt to death after running into barbed wire. 

From within the camp, it is useless to try to escape. The inmates who work on farms outside the camp sometimes try to escape but only to be shot on the spot.