“Inmates stole and ate corn mixed with feces because they were so hungry. Do you think their internal organs would be ok after that?” a defector asked the audience at “There Is No Love There”, an exhibition about North Korean political prison camps, on February 8th.
The defector was Cheong Kwang Il, who now acts as secretary general of Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag. He went on, “It is not a place for humans. The North Korean political prison camps are a place to treat people not as people but as animals.”
Cheong explained, “The guards mixed corn seed with feces so that we could not steal and eat it,” but that didn’t stop them, he said, and so, “On average, 60 to 70 people died of all kinds of diseases such as colitis in one sowing season.”
“We were given something like corn porridge, 200g, with a bowl of salt soup at every meal. And then, we had to work for 16 to 18 hours a day,” Cheong added.
Therefore, Cheong once again urged the audience to take an interest in North Korean human rights issues, saying, “This upcoming April, there will be an event: North Korean human rights week. However, not many people had an interest in (last year’s event), despite the fact that so many people gathered for the beef issue (protests in summer, 2008 against imports of beef from the US).”
“If people though that their parents were the ones dying in the camps, then all the South Koreans would come out. It is a sad matter,” he concluded.
Photos, video footage, drawings by formers prisoners and other materials related to North Korean political prison camps are on display at the exhibition, which is being held by the North Korean human rights club of Handong University and runs through February 14th.