Photo: (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
North Korea is thought to have as many as 200,000 prisoners in a secret political prison network, according to international experts, and the prisoners are said to be kept in brutal conditions.However, there’s some good news — NK News reports that one of the most largest and most notorious camps in that system has been shut down. A source told the website:
“Camp 22 in Hoiryeong was totally shut down in June. It was decided that it should be closed down after the warden who ran it and another officer ran away to China.”
While the closure reportedly did not lead to political prisoners being released (the camp’s estimated 20,000 to 50,000 prisoners were transferred to other prisons in other districts), the defection of a top officer is a big deal, as NK News explains:
‘Prison camp warden’ is a critical post directly assigned by the National Security Agency (NSA). Persons in the post are usually holders of the top NSA field-grade rank, and the job is usually the last a given official will receive prior to his retirement. In that sense, it is possible that the warden of Camp 22 has not only information about the political prison camp system itself but also sensitive information about high-ranking officials beyond the camp fence.
Camp 22 was noted for its brutal conditions, with beatings everyday and a variety of torture methods. According an NBC News as many as 20-25% of inmates died every year. North Korea officially denies the existence of the political camps.
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