This editorial is from the Washington Post:
Satellite photography has become an invaluable tool in the cause of human rights. David Hawk and Amanda Mortwedt Oh of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea used it to prepare a report providing unsettling details about a parallel set of prison camps in North Korea that exist along with the political camps exposed earlier. These are places with “gated high walls and barbed wire fences, guard towers, dormitories, and workshops or mines,” further evidence that North Korea’s leaders have carried out crimes against humanity.
Previously, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry reported in 2014 on a chain of penal camps in North Korea operated by the Ministry of State Security or secret police. These political camps are hidden and extrajudicial, and people can be held incommunicado for life. Family members are held there also. The camps are used to “preemptively purge, punish, and remove from North Korean society” those whom the regime fears might challenge their rule or ideology, Hawk says.
The new report fleshes out details of a second chain of punishment camps, run by the Ministry of People’s Security, in which prisoners serve fixed terms and are not held incommunicado, and their families are not incarcerated. These camps hold those accused of regular crimes, such as murder, assault and theft, but Hawk points out they also hold prisoners accused of political “crimes” set by the state. They include taking part in unauthorized gatherings; criticizing the state or even expressing dissatisfaction privately; possessing “decadent” drawings, written materials, periodicals, music, movies or videos; and “foul, hostile, or superstitious activities.” Prisoners in this parallel gulag suffer the deprivations of the other concentration camps, including starvation, forced labor and brutal conditions that lead to large numbers of deaths. It is not known precisely how many prisoners the camps hold — satellite imagery shows them in almost every province — but the U.N. report had suggested 70,000 or more. Hawk says they have sometimes been called reeducation camps, but that is a terrible misnomer; what’s going on is far more severe than just brainwashing sessions. North Korea is not only a testbed of nuclear weapons. It is also a black hole of human souls. That is another reason not to turn a blind eye to Kim Jong Un and his barbarous rule.