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Survivor Reveals Details on Yodeok Prison Camp

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Post 18 Nov 2012, 09:28
North Korean Prison Camp Survivor Reveals Horrific Details Inside the Yodeok Concentration Camp

On October 5, 2012, the North Korea Study Group at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government hosted Ms. Kim Young Soon, a former celebrated dancer in North Korea. In the 2008 book entitled, "I was Sung Hye-rim's Friend," she described her ordeal at the hands of Kim Jong Il, whom she never met. In an excerpt of the book, she wrote, "I was sent to Yodeok prison camp because I knew Kim Jong Il was with Sung Hye-rim. Even Kim Il-sung was not aware of Kim Jong Il's relationship with Sung. Kim Jong Il, a would-be No.1 leader of the republic, was in a relationship with a (once) married woman would be a huge scandal, and Kim Jong Il tried to keep the highest security."

I will write about what Ms. Kim shared with her audience members at our event last month. Ms. Kim and her family were part of the North Korean elite because her ancestors were anti-Japanese fighters when Korea was colonized by Japan in the early 20th century. She was sentenced to Yodok political prison camp for nine years. Her crime? She was school friends with Sung Hye-Rim, a famous North Korean actress who became a secret consort of Kim Jong-Il, and bore Kim Jong-Nam, the Dear Leader's eldest son.

Ms. Kim and Ms. Sung were classmates and friends from high school throughout college. One day, Ms. Sung told Ms. Kim that she was invited to Chamber #5, a residence reserved for the regime's ruling clan. After the state made the connection that Ms. Kim's friendship with Ms. Sung led to a civilian knowing too much of the Dear Leader's private affairs, Ms. Kim and her entire family was sentenced to Yodok political prison camp. While in the camp, Ms. Kim's husband was ratted out for an alleged crime by an inmate, and he was taken to the total-control zone portion of Yodok. Her entire family — parents, three sons, one daughter, and husband — passed away in the camp.

North Korean civilians are sentenced to Yodok camp with zero knowledge of their crimes. They don’t know if they committed a crime – and if so, the nature of the crime — or if they were sentenced due to guilt-by-association. If the latter, whose crime are they associated with? Guilt-by-association is an incredibly antiquated policy that was employed during Korea’s Chosun Dynasty in order to cut off the seeds of the next generation of criminals. It was only 10 years after being released from Yodok that she was told why she landed in the prison camp.

While in the camp, Ms. Kim witnessed mothers who desperately tried everything to keep their emaciated children alive. One common 'medicinal' practice was to cut open a pregnant rat to harvest its fetuses, roast the tiny creatures, and feed this to sick human babies in the camp. This was believed to cure human diseases. Political prisoners ate anything that “flew, crawled, or grew in the field.” On multiple occasions, she, along with all the camp prisoners, were forced to watch public executions of camp prisoners who were caught trying to escape the prison.

After speaking about Yodok, Ms. Kim spoke more broadly about the regime. By the 1980s, Kim Il-Sung’s leadership had purged all factious groups. The fall of the Soviet Union — on whom North Korea was heavily dependent for economic support —devastated North Korea’s public distribution system. One of their domestic campaigns to showcase the power of its regime was to widely circulate the movie, The Titanic, among its citizens. The regime declared that the sinking of the ship on April 15, 1912 was symbolic of the fall of evil capitalism and the rise of the Sun of North Korea.

Despite the regime’s attempt to demonize the United States by blaming the U.S. for all its own misfortunes, and calling it a wolf that can never turn into a pure sheep, it continues to pay its elites in $USD.

She then went on to speak about the luxury that shrouds the ruling family. Among the numerous mansions that exist for the elite, Mansion #72 is Kim Il-Sung’s mansion. All rice that enters these mansions is called Rice #1. Rice #2 is the name designated for emergency rice for war. Every article of clothing for the Kim family is specially designed for the members. She gave several anecdotes of the extremely fresh, large, and exotic seafood sent into Pyongyang every day with special government funds. If this seafood delivery food train were ever late, the supervisor of the train would be killed immediately. As one could imagine, these trains were never late. Ms. Kim knew Mr. Han, the supervisor of Train #8 and #9. He was a master of the sea surrounding North Korea, and he was responsible for delivering goods to the Kim family.

Elites knew that Kim Il-Sung told Kim Jong Il that the successor must concentrate on keeping the party and military officials appeased. Do not “waste time on the economy,” Ms. Kim quoted the Dear Leader. She claims that Kim Il-Sung argued that a reformed (and presumably a more open) economy would inevitably lead to the country’s demise and the successor’s death.

Despite Ms. Kim’s ardent hope for reunification, she understands that this is not possible in the near future with North Korea pointing 15,000 artillery units at South Korea.

Ms. Kim, along with numerous defectors, argue that Yodok and the other North Korean concentration camps have been modeled after Auschwitz under Kim Il-Sung's reign.

If prisoners are ever released, they are under strict orders to never reveal details of what they experienced and witnessed in the camps. Furthermore, former political prisoners are unable to join the North Korean military (North Korea mandates conscription for all its citizens for 12 years). Without graduating from the regime’s military, employment is nearly impossible.

She escaped North Korea on February 1, 2001 and entered South Korea in November of 2003. She serves as the vice president of the Seoul-based group Committee for the Democratization of North Korea.

Throughout our event, Ms. Kim repeatedly encouraged her audience members to watch 'Yodok Stories,' a controversial theater play that chronicles the experiences of several North Korean survivors of this political prison camp. This documentary captures the play and interviews of defectors who helped create the play. Please watch this.Ms. Kim tells you so! Actual Movie link [I couldn't get this link to work, but that might be a problem at my end]

Here are the transcripts of her testimony for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights (September 20, 2011):

Here is an interview that a report for Radio Free Asia conducted with Ms. Kim:

This is a pretty damning article and I'd be interested to hear what the people here who know a bit more about the DPRK have to say about it. I have not read much about being a particularly biased outlet, but maybe I've just missed that information.

Can anybody offer an explanation for this?
Post 18 Nov 2012, 15:38
There's hundreds of such stories and not all of them can be lies.
It wouldn't be surprising if it's true anyway.
Didn't they recently blow up some state official with a mortar mine? Lol.
Post 18 Nov 2012, 19:15
Yeah which sounded as bullshit as this. Seriously guys why do you read this shit?
Post 19 Nov 2012, 00:15
Dagoth Ur wrote:
Yeah which sounded as bullshit as this. Seriously guys why do you read this shit?
I just asked for some confirmations or refutations. Being a negative story doesn't automatically make it "bullshit" as far as I'm concerned. The article had several sources and (from what I could see) none of them were originating from heavily skewed sites. If you know of some opposing views don't be shy.

As far as that Mortar story goes I deliberately posted it in TLCTE rather than a serious forum, because I wasn't taking it too seriously.
Post 19 Nov 2012, 21:44
How could anyone here refute anything like this? That some woman was imprisoned for knowing KJI had a married mistress or whether she's in fact a criminal aiming to make a comfortable place in the world for herself as a poor death camp survivor. Either way it's irrelevant. As far as abuses go this is rather tame. People get murdered all over the world every day for knowing too much about the right people. Where are the big articles about them? The Congressional meetings for them to tell their tales? You see my point is this: why do you care about this one north Korean actress more than the child prostitutes many of our elected officials no doubt use?

Also how are these reporting agencies not suspect? Harvard-Kennedy? Radio Free Asia?
Post 19 Nov 2012, 21:49
North Korea is shit and its leadership barbaric tyrants. It really is one of the worst countries in the world.

Also how are these reporting agencies not suspect? Harvard-Kennedy? Radio Free Asia?

Even a blind chicken sometimes finds a worm.

Propaganda is one thing but hundreds of testimonies is something else.
Post 19 Nov 2012, 22:13
Loz wrote:
North Korea is shit and its leadership barbaric tyrants. It really is one of the worst countries in the world.

Yeah but unlike the true bastards of the world their misery is contained in a little area. The imperialists export brutality on an industrial scale. The Kim dynasty is such small potatoes that it is absurd so many marxists decide they have to take a stand against it. We have way bigger fish to fry. What's makes it more absurd is that there are many communists, some of them on this forum, who would cheer an imperialist victory against the DPRK. Defeating the DPRK is nothing but another failure for us no matter whether you consider them as communists or not.

Loz wrote:
Even a blind chicken sometimes finds a worm.

More like sometimes a rat gets lucky.

Loz wrote:
Propaganda is one thing but hundreds of testimonies is something else.

Propaganda is everything. The truth most of all.
Post 19 Nov 2012, 22:51
Yeah, you're right actually.
Post 17 Apr 2014, 02:03
Dagoth Ur is completelly right.

Why NK and not Pernambuco (Brasil)?

North Korea is shit and its leadership barbaric tyrants. It really is one of the worst countries in the world.

No, shit is that kind of imperialist discourse. "Barbaric tyrants", "worst countries in the world"?! Did you read what you just said? Or you just copy and paste it from CNN? It's a biased view, an emotion created by mediatic brainwashing... "worst country in the world". It is in a good level from a Third World perspective and even a reactionary like Andrei Vankov recognize that (just like hundreds of people that goes to North Korea from the Third World to learn something from them).

Less bravado, more critical reasoning like Dagoth Ur. Dagoth Ur is a living proof that you don't need to be an NK-information addicted to no buy this propaganda bullshit.

Even a blind chicken sometimes finds a worm.

Propaganda is one thing but hundreds of testimonies is something else.

Not necessarily. It's just an axiomatic affirmation made to give a "basis" for the "dystopia vision". The testimonies are, actually, a master piece of propaganda.

Whatever, Dagoth Ur already clarified this issue.
Post 14 May 2014, 16:52
I love how the biggest defenders of the DPRK don’t actually live there. Very wise move.
It’s a great place to move if you want to lose weight or never, ever want to leave there again.
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