“The first thing that passed through my mind when I heard about the verdict was that, from an American perspective, this is tantamount to a death sentence,” said Scott Snyder, director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy for the Asia Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
“There aren’t a lot of guarantees in that type of environment. It’s different from any prison that exists in the modern-day United States. This is a very sobering challenge for a new administration.”
North Korean defector Kim Hyuck, who spent a total of seven months between 1998 and 2000 in a “kyo-hwa-so,” said that the percentage of prisoners who die from the harsh conditions would be unimaginable in the west.
“It is not an easy place,” he said of the camps. “Centers for men and women are separate. But even [the] women’s place is not comfortable at all. . . . When I was in the center, roughly 600-700 out of a total 1,500 died.”