Torture in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [North Korea]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                        

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK  (North Korea)

North Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and shortages of spare parts. Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption.

Large-scale international food aid deliveries have allowed the people of North Korea to escape widespread starvation since famine threatened in 1995, but the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: NorthKorea

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the DPRK.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

North Korea Survivor Tells Of Starvation, Torture: ‘You Cannot Imagine What Life Without Freedom Is Like’

Juliana Knot, The federalist, 12 July 2018

[accessed 13 July 2018]

She started asking around and found a man Jo’s father had been imprisoned with. According to his roommate, the guards beat Jo’s father every night until he passed out, and his face was covered with blood. He died as a result of the torture and malnutrition

Please don't forget: In North Korea, executions, torture, and starvation are part of daily life

Jeva Lange, The Week, 12 June 2018

[accessed 12 June 2018]

The U.S. State Department estimates that between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners are held in prison camps "under horrific conditions" in North Korea today. "Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" are believed to have died in such camps over the past half-century. [New York Daily News]

In 2014, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry identified "systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations" in North Korea, including "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons, and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation." [Human Rights Watch].

Parents sue Pyongyang over torture and death of detainee Otto Warmbier

Associated Press AP, Washington, 27 April 2018

[accessed 27 April 2018]

Otto Warmbier, who was a student at University of Virginia, was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. He died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the U.S. with severe brain damage.

It says that after his arrest, Warmbier, from Cincinnati, Ohio, was pressured to make a televised confession and then convicted of subversion after a one-hour trial. He was denied communication with his family by any means until in early June 2017 they were informed he was in a coma and had been in that condition for one year.

The lawsuit says that when Warmbier returned, his parents “were stunned to see his condition. Otto was blind and deaf. He had a shaved head, a feeding tube coming out of his nose, was jerking violently and howling, and was completely unresponsive to any of their efforts to comfort him.” His once straight teeth were misaligned and he had an unexplained, scarred wound on his left foot.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or download PDF at

[accessed 18 March 2015]


TORTURE AND INHUMANE TREATMENT - People arrested in North Korea are routinely tortured by officials in the course of interrogations. Common forms of torture include kicking and slapping, beatings with iron rods or sticks, being forced to remain in stress positions for hours, sleep deprivation, and, for female detainees, sexual abuse and rape. For less serious crimes, suspects endure abuse until they can pay bribes for better treatment or release, while for more serious offenses, torture is used to extract confessions.

Former inmates claim executions, torture common in North Korea's prisons

Reuters, 20 August 2013

[accessed 20 Aug 2013]

Harrowing accounts from defectors now living in South Korea related how guards chopped off a man's finger, forced inmates to eat frogs and a mother to kill her own baby.

"I had no idea at all ... I thought my whole hand was going to be cut off at the wrist, so I felt thankful and grateful that only my finger was cut off," said Shin Dong-hyuk, punished for dropping a sewing machine.

Born in a prison called Camp 14 and forced to watch the execution of his mother and brother whom he turned in for his own survival, Shin is North Korea's best-known defector and camp survivor. He said he believed the U.N. panel was the only way to improve human rights in the isolated and impoverished state.

Hell Holes: Torture, starvation and murder the norm at world’s worst gulags

Perry Chiaramonte, Fox News, 1 March 2013

[accessed 2 March 2013]

CAMP 22 AND THE NORTH KOREAN GULAG SYSTEM - Also known as Hoeryong concentration camp, and part of a large system of prison camps throughout the communist dictatorship, Camp 22 is an 87-square-mile penal colony located in the North Hamgyong province colony where most of the prisoners are people accused of criticizing the government.

Inmates, most of whom are serving life sentences, face harsh and often lethal conditions. According to the testimony of a former guard from Camp22, prisoners live in bunk houses with 100 people per room and some 30 percent bear the markings of torture and beatings -- torn ears, gouged eyes and faces covered with scars.

Prisoners are forced to stand on their toes in tanks filled with water up to their noses for 24 hours, stripped and hanged upside-down while being beaten or given the infamous "pigeon torture” -- where both hands are chained to a wall at a height of 2 feet, forcing them to crouch for hours at a time.

Tiny rations of watery corn porridge leave inmates on the brink of starvation, and many hunt rats, snakes and frogs for protein. Some even take the drastic measure of searching through animal dung for undigested seeds to eat. Beatings are handed out daily for offenses as simple as not bowing down in respect to the guards fast enough. Prisoners are used as practice targets during martial arts training. Guards routinely rape female inmates.

“The conditions are brutal,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asian Division of Human Rights Watch, told “These people are constantly hungry and constantly scavenging.”

At Camp 22 and most other prisons in North Korea, getting locked up means a death sentence.

“It’s considered a one-way ticket," Robertson said. "They send you there to work you to death.”

Kang Cheol Hwan was the rare exception. Imprisoned at Camp 14 for a decade beginning at age 9, his crime was being the grandson of a man who allegedly criticized the government.

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2013

[accessed 26 Jan 2014]

ARBITRARY ARRESTS AND DETENTION - Hundreds of thousands remained arbitrarily detained, or held for indeterminate periods without charge or trial in political prison camps and other detention facilities. Detainees faced systematic and sustained violations of their human rights, including extrajudicial executions and long hours of forced hard labour with no rest days. Torture and other ill-treatment appeared to be widespread in prison camps. Many detainees died due to forced labour in perilous conditions, including inadequate access to food or medical care.

In October, there were reports that Political Prison Camp 22 in Hoeryong, North Hamkyung province, had been closed. It was not clear when the prison camp closed and where the prisoners, estimated at between 20,000 and 50,000, had been transferred. The camp, one of five of its kind, was a total control zone where inmates were held for life, without reprieve. Many of those held in political prison camps had not committed any crime, but were related to those deemed hostile to the regime and were held as a form of collective punishment.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 6 February 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The penal code prohibits torture or inhumane treatment; however, many sources continued to confirm its practice. According to a 2003 report by the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USCHRNK), torture was "routine" and "severe." Methods of torture reportedly included severe beatings, electric shock, prolonged periods of exposure, humiliations such as public nakedness, confinement for up to several weeks in small "punishment cells" in which prisoners were unable to stand upright or lie down, being forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long periods, being hung by one's wrists, being forced to stand up and sit down to the point of collapse, and forcing mothers recently repatriated from China to watch the infanticide of their newborn infants. Defectors continued to report that many prisoners died from torture, disease, starvation, exposure, or a combination of these causes.

In September a refugee reported that she lost the use of her feet due to severe beatings she received by North Korean police for attempting to leave the country.

In 2003 Kim Yong, a former police lieutenant colonel, told USCHRNK that as an inmate in a political prison camp in the 1990s, he had been forced to kneel for long periods with a steel bar placed between his knees and calves, suspended by his handcuffed wrists, and submerged in waist‑deep cold water for extended periods.

Over the years there have been unconfirmed reports from a few defectors alleging the testing on human subjects of a variety of chemical and biological agents up through the early 1990s.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 7   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 6 February 2013]

North Korea does not have an independent judiciary. The UN General Assembly has recognized and condemned severe DPRK human rights violations including the use of torture, public executions, extrajudicial and arbitrary detention, and forced labor; the absence of due process and the rule of law; death sentences for political offenses; and a large number of prison camps. The regime subjects thousands of political prisoners to brutal conditions, and collective or familial punishment for suspected dissent by an individual is also a common practice.

Human Rights in North Korea

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 6 February 2013]

Kim Jong-Un’s succession as North Korea’s supreme leader after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, has had no positive impact on the country’s dire human rights record. More than 200,000 North Koreans, including children, are imprisoned in camps where many perish from forced labor, inadequate food, and abuse by guards. Arbitrary arrest, lack of due process, and torture are pervasive problems. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom. Government policies have continually subjected North Koreans to food shortages and famine. Human Rights Watch is pressing for a UN commission of inquiry to investigate possible crimes against humanity in North Korea.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- DPRK (North Korea )",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [North Korea]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [North Korea]  [other countries]