We’ve all made jokes — probably too many — about the totalitarian reign of Kim Jong Il in North Korea, but this the actual face of his regime. These are the most detailed images we’ve ever seen of the concentration camps that hold over 200,000 North Korean citizens.
The stories to come out of the camps are horrifying. Inmates regularly die from torture, and are executed by firing squad and public stoning. The ones who survive that are malnourished and diseased, but still forced into slave labor seven days a week, while subsisting on a diet of “rats, snakes, frogs, insects”, and even faeces, according to former prisoners.
Yet North Korea continues to deny the existence of the camps. But these new satellite images are identified by the South Korean Unification ministry as sites of these concentration camps, including the infamous Camp 22 and Yodok, which holds as many as 50,000 prisoners, and make non-existence an increasingly difficult sell. Previous satellite images have been blurry and harder to decipher, but these new images are far more detailed. And according to Amnesty International, they appear to be growing when compared to images taken 10 years ago.
There’s no reason to think that near-incontrovertible evidence will do anything to deter the North Korean government from kidnapping and interring its citizens. They’ve shown time and again that they’re willing to shout down plainly apparent facts. But the public being able to look in on with such clarity and definition on the camps where hundreds of thousands of innocent people and political prisoners are being held might — just might — move the needle a bit to the side of humanity. [Daily Mail, Guardian, Washington Post]