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North Korea’s Prisons–Four Americans



Reuters Photo

For the last four years, our articles have focused on the many problems of our American jails and prisons. The United States has the largest number of inmates in the world and the most prisons. Our jails and prisons suffer from overcrowding, warehousing of the mentally ill, poor healthcare, violence, and etc.

How do American prisons and jails compare to other countries. There are countries, such as Norway, which puts the United States penal system to shame. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are countries, like North Korea, which does not have prisons, but has hard labor camps and death camps.

There are four Americans currently held in North Korea’s prisons. Korea has imprisoned Otto Warmbier, a 22 year old student, who was on a 5 day vacation in North Korea, for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Kim Dong Chul, 62, was arrested in Oct. 2015 on alleged charges of espionage and other undisclosed crimes. Chul was in charge of a hotel service in a special zone located between China and North Korea. He was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.

Tony Kim was arrested on April 22 for unknown charges. He was a teacher.

Kim Hak Song, another teacher, was recently arrested for alleged charges of harmful actions against the state.

North Korea has cloaked its prisons in silence. They are located in remote areas and are difficult to escape. We know from the few North Korean inmates and guards that were lucky to escape–the prisons in North Korea are concentration camps.

Ahn Myong-chol, a former guard at Camp 22, described the inmates as walking skeletons and cripples. Many had suffered torture resulting in torn-off ears and horrible eye injuries. He thought that about 2,000 of the 50,000 prisoners at Camp 22 had missing limbs. All inmates were always expected to work.

It is estimated that 40% of the prisoners die from malnutrition. The prisoners are fed a starvation diet and have to work from 5 AM to 8 PM. Any sign of disobedience is met with torture or death. One punishment consists of a prisoner standing on his or her toes in a tank filled with water up to the nose for 24 hours. Guards will strip, hang an inmate upside down, and then beat the prisoner violently.

Many North Koreans are imprisoned for the slightest political offense (any minor criticism of their leader or state).

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Defector Drawing–Vision Times

The four imprisoned Americans in North Korea are imprisoned in a living hell, but may face a better existence than the imprisoned North Koreans, because they are political bargaining chips for North Korea’s infamous leader.

By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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