North Korean Prisons Make Hell Look like a Vacation

    November 7, 2013
    Alex Williams
    Comments are off for this post.

Below this sentence lies graphic content  that will make you lose faith in humanity. If you don’t want to read and see drawings about another atrocity in the world, click here.

You’ve been warned.


It takes only an accusation of political “offense” or “unreliability” to be sent off to an internment camp in North Korea. This includes guilt by association, so if one of your family members or friends decides to even act remotely suspicious at all, you’ll be coming along with them. Trying to illegally leave the country, listening to a South Korean broadcast, or criticizing government policy are all offenses that will place you in a “revolutionary zone”. If you’re someone who “committed crimes against the regime” or have been denounced as “politically unreliable” (Christians, for example), you’ll be headed to a “total control zone”. The only difference between the two is that the former gives a vague promise of an eventual release, while the later involves life in prison.

You might be sent to Yodok, where you’ll live in Kwansilo 15 (translated as “correctional facility”), a political prison where the average temperature ranges from -4 to -22 degrees in winter; one toilet is shared among 200 inmates; adequate medicine is not accessible; and you’ll be forced to watch executions involving the hangings or shootings of your fellow inmates. Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in Kwansilo 14 and managed to escape to tell his tale described being forced to watch public executions:

“Shortly after my father and I were reunited after being tortured at a torture chamber in Kwansilo 14 for over seven months, we were blindfolded again and taken outside to a public square where a crowd of people had gathered. I recognized the place as a public execution site that was used two to three times every year. The hand cuffs were removed, and we were told to sit in the front row of the crowd. We saw two convicts, a man and a woman, being dragged to the site from some distance. As the convicts were dragged closer, to my horror, I recognized them; they were my mother and brother! My brother was obviously very weak, his bones clearly visible beneath his skin, my mother seemed swollen from head to foot. An indictment was read aloud, the final words of which stated that Chang Hye-kyong and Shin Ha-kun, enemies of the people, were sentenced to death. And then, in front of my father and me, my mother was first executed by hanging and, then, my brother was shot by a firing squad.”


Political prisoners endure punishments that include being placed indefinitely in a solitary 4×4 cell, water boarding, being beaten while being suspended from a rope that’s tied to handcuffs locked to ankles and wrists, sleep deprivation, bamboo slits under fingernails, et al.  If they don’t die from an execution or torture, they’ll be among the 40 per cent who perish from malnutrition. Food is found by any means necessary, including hunting rats and snakes, and, what Shin Dong-hyuk describes a “lucky day”, finding “kernels of corn in a small pile of cow dung.”

The North Korean government (despite testimonies from former detainees and satellite photos) denies the existence of the prisons which hold 200,000 inmates.

Below are illustrations from an alleged escaped prisoner that have yet been confirmed, but are congruent to escapee claims.

  • Yes

    This is a good article on an important subject. I don’t care what religion you are or even if you really don’t believe, we need to all pray for people in prison. At home and abroad. As we see above, in foreign countries like Korea, prisons are brutal. In the US, prisons are brutal in a different way. But make no mistake about this, if allowed to be, the guards in US prisons would do everything you see above. I assure you that many guards in American prisons think people who are incarcerated are lesser beings.

    Incarceration should be used as a last resort. All sentences are life sentences because your life is permanently altered. Try getting a job once you have been to prison — it is nearly impossible. Why do you think people commit new crimes once they are released? Do you really think people want to go back to the hell of prison? No. I assure you that they don’t.

    Politicians, judges, lawyers, and common people never visit prisons. When we sentence people in courtrooms, in a very real way, we have no idea what we are sentencing people to. I read comments on websites like this where people think a year in prison is nothing. Go to a prison and see if that is true. I assure you it is not. In America, we don’t have the abuses above. Instead, what we do is lock inmates in their cells for 23 hours a day. We make them work at prison industrial plants while not paying them and then we release them into a world with no money and massive fines/fees. In some prisons, guards do kill inmates, but it is covered up. Lastly, I assure you that there are many many innocent people in American prisons. More than you think there are. The way the US judicial system works is by forced pleas. That is the ONLY way it can work. We arrest more people than any other country in the history of mankind (Georgia is actually the worst place in the history of man for incarceration). The numbers are staggering. If everyone actually fought their case, the case backup would be years. So what do prosecutors do? They force pleas by threatening.

    At the end of the day, I just ask that people pray for all people in prison. Remember, Christ was a convict. He was unjustly convicted, sentenced to prison, and executed. If this world will do that to Jesus Christ, what do you think it will do to the common man? There is a reason why Christ told us to visit those in prison. There is a reason why he told us to always give mercy. There is a reason why the first person he took to heaven was a prisoner who was a thief. Pray for people. Pray for mercy. You never know when you will be the one who needs those prayers.

  • dunbar

    I think the write called YES above is a nut case and does more damage than good by their ridiculous ranting. I also feel the US,SK,Canada etc should take over NK and eliminate this deal.This is no different than Hitler during the 30 and fortys. I think worse