A former female guard inside one of North Korea’s prison camps has spoken out for the first time about her experiences working there.
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Lim Hye-jin, who was only 20 when she worked there, said that she saw killings, torture and rape at the camp, which leader Kim-Jong-un has recently expanded.
When discussing two brothers who managed to escape from a huge concentration camp in the mountains of North Korea, she said:
The two brothers were beheaded in front of everyone.
They called everyone to watch as a warning not to flee. The other prisoners then had to throw stones at them.
In another shocking case, a woman was forced to get naked before guards set her on fire after one of the officers lost his temper.
They did not see them as human beings, just as animals.
Prisoners are tortured through hunger and tough labour and Lim added that corpses litter the grounds.
All the bodies were piled up to one side.
There was no respect, no funeral process. After a week the corpses would be burned.
The prisoners are forced to work seven days a week, 16 hours a day, sometimes in freezing cold conditions:
We were manipulated not to feel any sympathy for prisoners.
We were told they had committed terrible crimes. Now I know they were normal people so I feel very guilty.
Guards are given propaganda sessions twice a week to force them to not see prisoners as humans.
Even if a guard was driving and ran over a child, there would not be real punishment.
Lim managed to flee the totalitarian state 15 years ago and she now lives in South Korea’s capital Seoul. She is using her shocking experience to speak out about the crimes committed in the North Korean prison camps, of which Kim Jong-un still denies their existence. It’s absolutely shocking that this goes on in some parts of the world – prisoners are forced into the labour camps and sadly, many don’t come out alive. With the rising tensions between North Korea and the US, who knows what the future holds for this country. You never know – maybe Kim’s long-ruling dictatorship will come to an end in the foreseeable future and the prisoners will be set free. We can only hope.