North Korea
Very little is known about North Korea's labor camps. Image: Flickr / tequilapartners / CC-BY

The death of Kim Jong-il led to expansive shows of mourning from the government media sources. Now, reports from the repressive country say citizens who did not appear to be sincerely mourning are being sent to labor camps.

The show of mourning

After the death of Kim Jong-il in December, state media in North Korea began releasing videos and photos of citizens crying and mourning the leader’s death. Many news outlets around the world questioned the validity and truthfulness of much of the mourning. Public mourning events and smaller, private ceremonies to mourn the death and celebrate the succession of Kim Jong-un were held, at which North Korean authorities videotaped all citizens and took account of who was there.

Labor camp for insincere mourners

According to one source inside North Korea, North Korean party officials have been reviewing video footage and data from the mourning events since December. Any citizens who did not attend the events or any mourners who did attend but appeared to be “insincere in their mourning” are being sent to forced labor camps. This same thing happened in previous years, when Kim Il-sung died. The North Korean party officials see the attendance at events and sincerity of mourning to be indications of loyalty to the party and to the country.

Labor camps in North Korea

According to Amnesty International, the labor camps in North Korea are also called re-education camps. Very little is known about the camps except for what former guards and inmates have told authorities. Currently, 40 percent or more of inmates at these prison camps die of malnutrition. The very cold winter temperatures, lack of access to adequate food, water and medical care all contribute to this problem. Only three people have ever escaped from these camps, and torture is reportedly a common occurrence.

Daily Mail
ABC News

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