World uncovers the "gas chambers" of North Korea
tell the BBC's This World (BBC TWO, 1 February 2004, 9.00pm)
that North Korea is killing political prisoners in gas chambers.
programme has also uncovered documentary evidence that North Korea
is now testing new chemical weapons on women and children, the families
of dissidents and political prisoners held in secret jails.
Hyuk (his new name) was the former military attaché at the
North Korean embassy in Beijing and chief of management at North
Korea's prison camp 22 (or "Management Centre" as they
says he has chosen to speak because he wants the world to know what
is happening there and for the first time has decided to reveal
on public record what he witnessed in Camp 22.
a drawing, Kwon Hyuk, describes the gas chamber he saw: "The
glass chamber... is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metre wide, 3 metre
long and 2.2 metre high.
is the injection tube going through the unit and it is attached
like this. Normally, a family sticks together... and individual
prisoners stand separately around the corners.
observe the entire process from above, through the glass."
witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying
in the gas chamber. The parents, son and a daughter.
parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they
tried to save kids by doing mouth to mouth breathing.
the time I felt that they thoroughly deserved such a death. Because
all of us were led to believe that all the bad things that were
happening to North Korea was their fault; that we were poor, divided
and not making progress as a country."
about the children Kwon Hyuk says: "It would be a total lie
for me to say I felt sympathetic about the children dying such a
the society and the regime I was in at the time I only felt that
they were the enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them at
tells the BBC's Olenka Frenkiel: "Before escorting them
to the lab, we receive transfer letters containing details of the
prisoners. We pass on such letters to the agents from the National
Security Agency for a signature."
World features a document recently smuggled out of North Korea stamped
"Top Secret" and headed "Transfer Letter" that
clearly explains that political prisoners are used for the purpose
of human biological experimentation and for production of biological
document was obtained from another person who took it from the prison
and smuggled it out of North Korea in his trousers. His motive was
the same, to alert the world.
Sang Hun, who has a long history of human rights work relating to
North Korea, says the document is genuine:
carries a North Korean format, the quality of paper is North Korean
and it has an official stamp of agencies involved with this human
stamp they cannot deny. And it carries names of the victims and
where and why and how these people were experimented."
Sang Hun adds: "I know the system and I have shown this to
a number of North Korean defectors. I heard similar stories from
more then 20 or 30 refugees.
testimonies converged to one fact: that human biological experimentation
is taking place; for many years and systematically. And the number
of victims are very many. It is wide-spread practice."
Ok Lee, a former prisoner in a North Korean prison, says: "An
officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners.
of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me
not to eat it but to give it to the fifty women. I gave them out
and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all
screaming and vomiting blood.
who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and
screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were
North Korea tries to win concessions in return for axing its nuclear
programme, Olenka Frenkiel hears testimonies from witnesses of the
regime's brutal crimes against its own people.
the crisis talks on North Korea's nuclear programme grind on, one
thing is certain - human rights will not be factored in to any deal.
year a hundred thousand North Koreans try to escape by crossing
the frozen river Tumen to China. Only a tiny fraction reach safety
in South Korea.
the Chinese catch them, as they often do, they send them back to
North Korea, to prison, forced labour and sometimes execution.
of thousands of North Korea's citizens are imprisoned without charge,
not for any crime but because their relatives are believed to be
critical of the regime.
North Korea women and children find themselves in prison camps because
according to Kim Jong Il, the country's leader, and his late father
before him President Kim Il Sung, the bad blood and the seed of
any dissident must be rooted out down to three generations.
labour and starvation rations ensure that prisoners are too weak
to rebel. Babies conceived in the camps are routinely aborted or
murdered in front of their mothers. Prisoners of all kinds are tortured
every day. Those who try to escape are publicly executed in front
of all camp inmates.
documentary airs for the first time the accounts of those who have
witnessed these present day atrocities, not only the victims but
the perpetrators too.
the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview,
the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well
as on satellite and cable.
offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services
from BBCi, as well as 11 national BBC radio networks.