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Thousands of North Korean prisoners may have died after a notorious prison camp larger than the size of London was closed at the end of last year, a new report from a human rights group says.
The Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HNRK) says Kim Jong Un consolidated the country’s prison camps after the death of his father in 2011, according to The Telegraph.
An account from a North Korean defector says Camp No. 22 in North Hamyong province once held an estimated 30,000
When Camp 22 shut down, an estimated 7,000-8,000 prisoners were transferred from the gulag's compounds, situated in the remote northern county of Hoeryong, to other labor camps. The report says that trains holding inmates were seen departing the area at night, heading south. Many prisoners are thought to have been moved to Camp 25 near Chongjin City or to North Hamgyeong Province's Camp 16, about which virtually nothing is known.
But that still leaves many thousands of prisoners unaccounted for. Their fates are unknown for the time being, as information from inside the so-called Hermit Kingdom often takes years to leak to the outside world, if it gets out at all.
Hawk used the opportunity of the astounding news to issue a call to action: "If even remotely accurate, this is an atrocity requiring much closer investigation,"
There are fears that up to 20,000 may have been allowed to die of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of the camp at the end of last year.
The suspicion has emerged from a newly-released report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) detailing the situation in penal colonies as Kim Jong-un consolidated his power after taking over as leader from his father, Kim Jong-il who died in 2011. Now the group that is demanding an inquiry into their fate.
The Washington-based organisation gleans information from defectors from the North, including former guards and the occasional survivor of a prison camp, as well as examining satellite imagery.
The report, North Korea's Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, reveals that two camps have been shut down in the last year but that 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labour colonies across the country.
Maybe a little known fact is N.K. supplies political prisoners to Siberia (big Korean population there) for the lumber industry.