The gulag is a network of labor camps that houses 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners. They are generally arrested for no crime, sent away with no trial, never again allowed to communicate with anyone outside the camps, fed on starvation rations and forced to work until they die. Other than from one camp, according to South Korean expert Yoon Yeo-sang, no one deported to North Korea’s gulag is ever released.
As noted by Blaine Harden, author of the recently published book “Escape from Camp 14,” the North Korean gulag has existed twice as long as did the Soviet network of labor camps created by Lenin and Stalin, and 12 times as long as Hitler’s concentration camps. Yet, for the most part, “Americans don’t know anything about these camps,” Mr. Harden said. “They don’t know they exist.”
“China, North Korea’s neighbor to the north and west, abuses the human rights of its own population and does not believe any country’s freedom to abuse its population in the same way should be interfered with,” the Post notes.
China, in fact, is complicit in North Korea’s abuses, since it sends many defectors who have made it across the Yalu River back into North Korea, where they face punishment or, if they are repeat escapees, execution. North Korean women who have become pregnant in China often are forced to abort their children. “In cases where the pregnancy is too advanced, guards beat the infants to death or bury them alive after they are born,” writes Roberta Cohen, the chair of HRNK.
“As a first step, the United Nations could establish a commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity taking place inside the prison camps,” says the editorial.
Many of the revelations of the camps’ atrocities have come from a new generation of defectors which has been described as a “small miracle” for raising hopes for human rights in North Korea. The defectors act as a “bridge population” between the two Koreas, said Carl Gershman, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy.