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North Korea gulag

Escapees from the gulag state that is North Korea ought not to be termed defectors. That would indicate a well-thought out ideological break with the cult of Pyongyang and a betrayal of Communist principles. I'm not convinced that's what's going on. I don't think anyone else is, either.

Certainly, as escaped refugees learn what the real world is like outside of the totalitarian state's borders, any lingering solidarity with the dynasty of Kim Il Sung will disappear. But the reason most people try to get out is because they're desperately hungry and fear being imprisoned and tortured for breaking arbitrary rules like not crying enough at the Dear Leader's recent funeral. They're not traitors; they are refugees hoping to escape with their lives and nothing else.

When China arrests these people and sends them back to meet their lethal fate at the hands of the North Korean prison camp guards, it is violating their human right to life. It's sort of like an escapee from Al Qaeda somehow managing to get to a consulate or airport and authorities deciding to hand them back to their former captors for a scheduled beheading. Or to...More >>

May the death of Kim Jong Il trigger an end to these houses of horror.

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Human rights groups say there are about 200,000 prisoners in North Korea's gulag. The horrors they endure drive people to madness. One defector who escaped the camps in 2003 talks about the lengths some desperate, starving North Korean prisoners will go to survive by cannibalizing their own family members:

"One time a mother put her 9-year-old daughter in this big cast iron pot and boiled her," she said. "She was a too big for the pot so the mother had to chop her legs and head to fit the body in the pot."


"On another occasion, a lady killed her 16-year-old son, chopped him into pieces and took him to a butcher shop to get some corn in exchange," she said.

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