September 24, 2011 08:17
North Korea recently moved dozens of abduction victims from South Korea to an internment camp in South Pyongan Province, South Korean intelligence agencies believe.
Choi Sung-yong, of the activist group Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, said, "Some of them were cooperating with the North Korean regime, but many of them now live under surveillance since they retired." He said there are intelligence reports that Korean Japanese who moved to North Korea and Japanese abduction victims were also moved to the camp. "It seems North Korea will try to use them as leverage against South Korea and Japan in future negotiations."
The people who were moved to the internment camp fell victim to the North's bizarre abduction policy in the 1970s and 80s.
According to a North Korean defector who served as a lieutenant colonel in the notorious People's Security Department, the camp in Wonhwa-ri was originally used as a training facility for spies that were sent to South Korea. But as the North sent fewer spies in the 1990s, the facility was turned into a camp for abduction victims.
The former North Korean agent visited the camp in the 1980s and 90s, and said it was "ideal for espionage training because there were different types of landscape such as river and lakes around. There are many valleys and houses are far apart, so it must be difficult for the abduction victims to communicate with each other." He added there was a training camp for the North Korean national football team nearby as well as a big hospital for exclusive use of party cadres and their families. "I remember seeing buses with visitors from Pyongyang coming and going on Sundays."
The regime apparently runs another facility to monitor abductees just outside of Pyongyang. The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea in May claimed it has identified a residential area in northeastern Pyongyang where South Korean abduction victims are held in semi-confinement.
The group said former partisans in the Japanese Red Army and some Japanese abduction victims also live near Pyongyang.
Japanese abduction victims were typically forced to teach Japanese to North Korean spies at a university there, HRNK said. But since the plight of the abduction victims became a regular issue in the global human rights debate, the regime moved them to Wonhwa-ri in South Pyongan Province.
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