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PRESS RELEASE: HRNK and AllSource Launch Report Based on Satellite Imagery of North Korea’s Political Prison Camp No. 14
November 30, 2015


Monday, November 30, 2015

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and AllSource Analysis (AllSource) Launch Report Based on Satellite Imagery of North Korea’s Political Prison Camp No. 14

The Increased Economic Importance of Political Prison Camp Labor, a Developing Trend?

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. and AllSource Analysis (AllSource), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have launched a report entitled North Korea Imagery Analysis of Camp 14.  Political Prison Camp No. 14 (a.k.a. Kwan-li-so No. 14) is located approximately 61 kilometers northeast of North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang and about 19 kilometers southeast of  Kaechon, South Pyongan Province.

Located on the forested slopes of the Changan mountain range, Camp 14 was established in the mid-1960s. The camp occupies an irregularly shaped area that measures approximately 14 by 21 kilometers. While open-source information on the camp continues to be scarce, the Camp 14 political prisoner population is estimated to be around 15,000. The report can be downloaded from HRNK’s website (HRNK.ORG), together with other HRNK publications. For this report, AllSource used pan-sharpened satellite imagery collected by DigitalGlobe, Airbus Defense and Space and Landsat from December 2002 through December 2014. The report also used declassified KH-9 satellite imagery in order to provide limited historical context.

The report is the latest step in a collaborative effort by HRNK and AllSource to create a clear picture of the evolution and current state of North Korea’s political prison camps. HRNK is the NGO that put North Korea’s penal labor colonies on the map by publishing Hidden Gulag in 2003, Hidden Gulag Second Edition in 2012, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps in 2013, and The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression & Prisoner Disappearances in 2015, all authored by world-renowned investigator David Hawk. Together, the two organizations have been closely monitoring North Korea’s political prison camps so that any attempts to distort the harsh reality of the camps by destroying evidence will not go unnoticed.

The new HRNK/AllSource report establishes that Camp No. 14 remains an operational political prison camp. Based on the physical security measures observed, the majority of those inside the camp perimeter are prisoners. Satellite imagery analysis indicates that the prisoners maintain the agricultural fields, orchards, and livestock. Prisoners are forced to work in logging and the manufacturing of wood products. They are also dispatched as forced laborers at light industrial facilities and mines.

It appears that significant road repair and construction activity has been conducted during the period under study. A new 3-kilometer-long road, constructed between September 2013 and December 2014, provides access to support new agricultural and logging activity. While the prisoner population appears to have remained constant, the new road construction activity seems to provide evidence of the sustained, if not increased economic significance of Camp 14 and its slave laborers.

HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu said: “Ever since HRNK began investigating the North Korean gulag, it became apparent that the use of forced labor was extensive. The death rates in the camps are high, as prisoners are subjected to relentless forced labor and induced malnutrition. It has been difficult to assess the precise economic benefits extracted by the North Korean regime and the officials running the camps from the forced labor of prisoners equipped only with rudimentary tools.” Scarlatoiu further added: “The HRNK/AllSource report on North Korea’s camp 14 indicates that that the economic significance of that unlawful detention facility may have increased during the period under study. A previous HRNK/AllSource report on Camp 25 prison labor yielded similar satellite imagery-based findings. By providing updates on all known political prison camps in North Korea through satellite imagery analysis and defector testimony, HRNK and AllSource will endeavor to assess if the increased economic importance of the political prison camps and the slave labor they provide is a developing trend under the regime of Kim Jong-un.”

The report North Korea’s Camp No. 14 is available on HRNK’s website: WWW.HRNK.ORG

Contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, executive.director@hrnk.org; 202-499-7973

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