ANS – Three out of four North Korea defectors living in Seoul say they witnessed public executions in their communist homeland, according to a recent survey by South Korea ‘s government-run human rights body.
According to analysis by a United Press International (UPI) correspondent writing in the Nov. 1 edition of the World Peace Herald, human rights activists say the survey shows how rampant public executions were in North Korea , despite the countrys denial of human rights abuses. They are asking for the worlds attention to be focused on humanitarian conditions in North Korea .
UPI reported that according to the survey conducted by South Korea ‘s National Human Rights Commission, 75 of 100 North Korean defectors polled said they witnessed public executions while staying in the North. Most of those surveyed left the North in the late 1990’s or later.
An additional 17 defectors, UPI stated, said they heard of public executions in the North, the survey showed.
This survey shows that almost all North Korean defectors witnessed public executions or were aware of such punishment being carried out in the North, UPI reported the human rights watchdog said in the report.
Ninety-four North Koreans polled said they were aware of the existence a Soviet-style gulag, which officials in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have vigorously denied, according to the survey. Many public executions were conducted in the concentration camps that are said to house some 200,000 political prisoners.
Kim Tae-jin, a defector who was detained in a concentration camp in North Korea ‘s Yodok region before fleeing to South Korea , said anyone caught escaping from the gulag was publicly executed.
There is no exception, UPI reported he said. Everyone in the facility is called out to watch the execution and the prisoners see it at a close distance. I saw about four to five executions while I was in the camp.
Kang Chol-hwan, another North Korean gulag escapee now living in Seoul , said he witnessed 15 public executions. In his book, The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, UPI reported Kang describes condemned prisoners mouths being stuffed with rocks to muffle their cries as they were shot by a firing squad.
UPI reported the survey also showed that 64 North Korean defectors witnessed their neighbors dying of starvation. Most of the defectors left their communist homeland due to poverty and repression.
They crossed the rivers on the borders with China and Russia , hoping eventually to go to South Korea , the survey showed. According to UPI, Seoul-based human right groups say up to 300,000 North Korean asylum-seekers are believed to be hiding in China and Russia in hopes of reaching South Korea for resettlement.
More than 90 percent of the defectors polled said there were widespread discriminatory practices in distributing material benefits and opportunities on the basis of people’s class background. Corruption by the ruling elite was rampant in the North, UPI reported the survey showed.
More than 80 percent of the defectors said they witnessed or heard about human trafficking in the North, and 60 percent were aware that pregnant women who had poor class backgrounds were forced to have abortions [Go To Full Story]