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North Korea: Newly discovered labour camp offers 'no escape'

14 November 2016

Researchers have identified another labour camp in North Korea.

The camp is a kwan-li-so - the name North Korea uses to label political labour camps from which there's no escape. Although the camp was built over a decade ago, satellite images have enabled them to verify what the structure is used for, and show that it has recently expanded. It is one of the smaller camps, but it appears to be well maintained.

It's not possible to determine the prisoner population but the recent construction of over 54 new housing units suggests it's growing. It's likely that most prisoners have to do dangerous work in the mines that are next to the camp.

The camp is located only about 45 miles to the northeast of the North Korean capital Pyongyang. It partly shares a security fence with another infamous labour camp, Camp 14. And the fact that the authorities have built two high security compounds suggests that 'high value prisoners' are kept there.

There are no roads leading up to the security guard posts, which suggest they patrol largely by foot. The camp is connected to a railway station located just over a mile away.

The official name of the camp is unknown, so the researchers call it Ch'oma-Bong, after the village that's nearby.

The camp is mentioned in a report from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). Although the report doesn't mention Christians, it is possible that our brothers and sisters end up in a kwan-li-so like this one. According to the HRNK, there is an 'indication that Ch'oma-bong is more focused on punishing and isolating detainees, rather than "reeducating" them through forced labor.'

Whoever is in that camp, let us pray for them.

Source: Human Rights in North Korea

Please pray:

  • For the prisoners of Ch'oma-Bong, that God will make his presence known to them
  • For our Christian brothers and sisters held in similar camps across North Korea
  • For those who guard these camps: that they will act with mercy and justice and that God will break through into their lives.

Report based on satellite imagery of North Korea's Ch'oma-bong restricted area New Window

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Find out more about persecution in North Korea.