Satellites peep into North Korea’s prison camps

Satellites peep into North Korea’s prison camps

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New satellite imagery of North Korea’s network of political prison camps obtained by the Amnesty International shows the regime in Pyongyang is continuing to expand its repression of dissidents.

This imagery analytic report of North Korean Prison Camp 15 investigates changes that occurred between 14 December 2014 and 22 August 2016 following the latest publicly released imagery analysis report on Camp 15 from December 2013. For this report, the southern 70 square kilometer portion of the camp was assessed for changes using DigitalGlobe 50cm satellite imagery.

Over the two-year study period, 43 different buildings were either completely razed or underwent major deconstruction such as roof removal. Of these, 14 were prisoner housing units and the rest served agricultural or industry support purposes. Agricultural activities such as farming. orchards, livestock and fish farm operations are noted throughout the camp. Of the three fish farms present in the most recent image. one of them is likely not operational, another is probabh not in use at this time and the third appears Operational.

No changes to any of the administrative areas were observed. While four perimeter guard stations are located within the study area they were not directly Observable in the 2016 imagery due to the thick tree canopy The main southern entry guard position is still in place. as is the entry and check point leading to the now defunct Revolutionizing Zone.

Given the above observations. Prison Camp 15 is still a functioning detention facility. The Implications of the observed changes are presently unclear. They may represent a continued slow reduction of the existing prison population or be indicative of normal activity within the camp. Further determination of either condition would require examination of the entire facility and further monitoring in the future.

1Camp 15: Area 1

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

2Camp 15: Area 2

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

3Camp 15: Area 3

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

4Camp 15: Area 4

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

5Camp 15: Area 5

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

6Camp 15: Area 6

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe

7Camp 15: Area 7

Image Courtsey: DigitalGlobe