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Starving North Korean prisoners being ‘worked to death spotted’ from space

North Korean prisoners at a forced labour camp have been spotted toiling away by satellites high above the Earth.

Some of the first images ever captured show inmates at T’osŏng-ni, a labour camp only a few miles from the Chinese border, being worked hard.

They reveal the starving figures of prisoners standing in formation alongside stacks of grain they have been working on.

Escaped prisoner Kim Doohyun said the prisoners photographed faced punishing forced labour.

He said: “Sometimes prisoners are mobilised to help nearby farms. They have to line up and walk like the images show when they go to work or back from work.

“Also, their uniforms are grey and they wear the same colour hats – and you can see that the top of their heads looks a little bit white in the image.

“The image of the prisoners shows clearly that T'osŏng-ni is still operating.”

He also said those who aren't sent food parcels by their families face a battle against starvation.

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Kim added: “Families can support prisoners with food, but of course not all the food you send will go to your family in prison, some is taken by officers.

“If prisoners don’t have family or are not supported by families, life in prison is much more difficult to survive.”

It's thought 2,500 prisoners are locked up at T'osŏng-ni for political "re-education" and other spurious offences.

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According to the charity Anti-Slavery International, prisoners start work as early as 4am and continue as late as midnight, with 12-hour shifts and typically no rest days.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), which released the pictures, explained more in a new report.

Executive director Greg Scarlatoiu said: “Prisoners at this and other North Korean detention facilities are subjected to a relentless vicious cycle of forced labour and induced malnutrition.

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“Conditions are terrible and we have documented the use of forced labour at the camp.”

Prisoners make hats, gloves, helmets and other accessories for North Korea's draconian security service.

Kim's dad was sentenced to eight years in prison and hoped for a transfer to T'osŏng-ni. Yet he was rejected because he was too old to be a valuable worker.

Kim explained: “They didn't accept my father because they believed he would die very soon.

"It was true that my father was almost dying because of the torture he got in the detention centre.

“He was down to 66lbs (30kg) and [they] didn’t want to dispose of the body.”

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His father died two years into his sentence.

Kim also warned that the prisoners in the photo were only the tip of the iceberg.

He said: "My story is not unique and it didn't happen 100 or 200 years ago.

"At this very moment there are thousands of people in North Korea like my father and our family suffering from this kind of oppression and human rights violations."

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