Inside North Korena prison where rats gnaw on corpses and prisoners drink ashes

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North Korean prisoners are being forced to burn corpses and drink water tainted with the dead inmates’ ashes.

The horrors are taking place in the hermit kingdom’s Chongori concentration camp.

Inmates are locked up by Kim Jong-un's regime for petty offences, such as watching South Korean TV or practising Christianity.

Former prisoners have shared some of their chilling experiences – including piles of corpses being gnawed on by rats.

One former prisoner recalled: “Every Monday, we burned the corpses… there's a place that looked like a house, and we piled the corpses in the round tank in it.

“The facility was drenched in the smell of blood and rotting or burning corpses.

“After burning the corpses, they stacked up ashes next to the cremation site. The ashes were used as a compost for farming.

“When it rained, the ashes flowed into the river, and the prisoners drank the river water and used it to shower.”

On rainy days, when the wood got wet, bodies would not burn as well.

On one occasion, the former prisoner even found themselves tripping over disembodied toes.

They said: “I fell on something. At first, I thought I was stuck on a tree, but when I looked closer, it was a toe.

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“I climbed the mountain following the ash and there were five toes right in front of me. I was so surprised.”

The escapee, whose identity has been protected, made their horrifying disclosure in a new report published by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

The report also revealed that the bodies of dead prisoners were piled in a storeroom prior to cremation, where they would be partially eaten by rats and decay would set in.

The HRNK used satellite imagery to reveal the location of the crematorium, the prison buildings and forced-labour worksites.

One of these worksites is a copper mine, which is believed to be further contaminating the river water that prisoners have to drink.

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Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. the lead author of the report, said: “We know people are suffering beyond imagination.

“The atrocities committed throughout North Korea’s vast system of unlawful imprisonment require the immediate attention of the international community.”

Amanda Mortwedt Oh, who co-authored the report, added: “The lack of human dignity afforded to prisoners is beyond repugnant, and the Kim regime must be held to account for such actions."

Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of HRNK, revealed the nature of the so-called crimes many inmates were accused of.

He said: "Behavior that is perfectly normal in most other countries is criminalised in North Korea.

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“This includes practising religion, especially Christianity, and possessing a Bible, and accessing information from the outside world, in particular any South Korean material like soap operas.

“It even includes ‘mishandling' or 'disrespecting' a newspaper page containing the picture of the North Korean leader or his father or grandfather.

“Anything along those lines results in imprisonment at a North Korean detention facility."

Chongori concentration camp – officially called Kyo-hwa-so (reeducation camp) No. 12 – is in North Hamgyong Province, in the north of the country, roughly 15 miles from the Chinese border.

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As many as 5,000 people are imprisoned there, with some 60% incarcerated for illegally crossing the border while the other 40% are being punished for offences like watching foreign TV.

Inmates are used as slave labour, with women manufacturing wigs and false eyelashes, and raising livestock, while men are put to work manufacturing furniture, mining copper and processing ore.

One former prisoner estimated that, during his eight months of detention at Chongori, 800 fellow inmates died as a result of hard labour and malnutrition.

An estimated 120,000 people are believed to be imprisoned across North Korea.

The Kim regime denies any human rights offences within the camps and only admitted such facilities even exist in 2014.

  • North Korea Dprk
  • Kim Jong Un

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