Prison Information and What It’s Really Like…
To start the story off, I just want to say that some use prison labour companies; perhaps penal labour. The reason is because it is a cheap and effective way to carry out menial tasks. Also, a few of them believe that they’re offering prisoners an alternative being locked up 23 hours a day; even if the work itself isn’t very taxing. Others try to offer training and make the work part of a rehabilitation process.
However, he problem is that the prison service is at loathe to release any details about the contracts citing commercial confidentiality. As well as the effect adverse publicity might have.
About this site’s history
This website was formerly about examining the relationship between private companies and the labour; which such companies sourced from prisoners in UK. The owners of the website sought to gather material; which could help in improving the labour relationship of prisoners; as well as their well being in instances where they could be paid ‘real’ wages for their work in new plans for the penal reformers.
I’ve decided to remake this website all together; as well as address the various challenges that prisoners face; while they are being held in correctional facilities. Most of the fundamental rights and privileges are ever overlooked. And their health and living conditions are usually a nightmare. I sought to address such issues and most of the information can be accessed by clicking the topics below.
In the meantime, I felt the need to share a story about the tribulations that my aunt had to undergo; as she served her jail term in prison. Below is a recount of how much she underwent as I evidenced from what she told me…
What is Prison Labour?
Nonetheless, as most people on the planet already know, living in North Korea is anything except an ordinary thing. The same secretive nation is seen as a pariah of the world; an entity that can stay defiant against any force in the world. This is because it possesses nuclear capabilities.
Be that as it may, this information is something that is readily available anywhere in the world and often; the same nation is a part of the international daily news cycle. But, at the same time, many have very little information about how people actually live inside of North Korea; even though many realize that most of them have an experience like being prisoners in an entire country.
However, I was born and raised in the same land; which allowed me to experience a lot of things there. But one of them was most horrendous: a prison labour camp. Often, when I began to tell my story, people start to feel sorry for me; believing that I was a prisoner inside of the same institution. Unfortunately, my story begins with an immediate twist. It is correct that I got to experience a prison labour camp. But I was located on the other side of the barbed wire fence, working as a guard. How I came to that position has to have with my family origins.
Prison Labour Has Benefits and Risks
My grandfather fought in the Korean War in the 1950’s; and attained a rank of a colonel just before it ended. In one of the last major battles, he was killed; leaving my father as an orphan. But, because he died a death that the government of North Korea labeled as heroic; my father received the best care in a new government orphanage.
When he got older, he entered military school; then the military academy. Eventually he became an officer like my grandfather; and soon after, he met and married my mother. However, I was born in 1967 into a proud North Korean family. Even though my father loved his country; he believed that I should not carry the family tradition.
Instead, he decided that I should become a police officer, more priceless, a prison guard. He held the strong belief that the biggest enemies of the country are its dissidents. Along with all others who defy the great leader. Being a small child at that time, I naturally accepted this as my fate. However, I enrolled in the police academy and specialized in the management of prisoners.
In the late 1980’s
I finished my education and began to work immediately right in a fully operational prison labour camps. Therefore, the history of North Korea includes a lot of instances of prison labour salvation; or slavery being used as workers. During the Japanese occupation; they were used to build roads and other infrastructure.
But, after the civil conflict that split the island of Korea into two countries; the North quickly began rounding up anyone who defied the government or seemed suspicious. The government presented these prison labour camps as a place where prisoners would be re-educated and sent back into the society as new and better people. As I began working, I saw a different picture. Sure, there were a lot of good people working as guards; including those who really tried to help the inmates to rehabilitate themselves; giving those lessons on the great history of North Korea and how to be loyal citizens.
Why Prison Labour is Bad
Often, those prisoners who were willing to cooperate were released after a year or two, vowing never to return. But, many other times, I witnessed things that could not be forgotten. I saw people humiliated, harassed and tortured. Sometimes, the methods made me sick to my stomach; even though I never participated or hurt anyone. Many of the other guards enjoyed hurting other people for purely sadistic reasons; and I could not do anything about that. But, at the same time, as an educated worker; I had the privilege of keeping my hand clean, even though I was present there every day.
Their sounds and screams of the inmates gave me nightmares for days on end; where I felt I was the actual prisoner and part of those prison labour slavery camps. In spite of this, I stuck to my job, knowing that my father expected me to be a good citizen, at least, how he saw this idea. Nevertheless, in a strange way, for those who behaved and followed the prison labour policy rules often got a good exercise; while they spent time in the camp. Many tasks they were given were really demanding. But for many who did their part accordingly; they got results that were better than any weight loss exercise or special diet plan you could imagine.
Why Prison Labour is Good
In part, the camps were originally imagined like this: as a prison where people would become better individuals; both physically and mentally. That is why for those who wanted to do their time, the exercise did plenty of good. For others, the diet was starvation and weight loss simply an absence of any nourishing food. But, as the months became years, I realized that the camps really were only slave prisons where many never left.
Moreover, in the early 1990’s my mother and then my father passed away and my loyalty to North Korea died with them. As a matter of fact, without a doubt I knew that if I just quit my job I could very well end up in the same place along with other prisoners. Sometime during the day, I made a plan and plotted how can I escape over the border and find freedom in South Korea. The venture was extremely dangerous.
It could end with my death..
Be that as it may, I then realized that I had only one chance at this. But I was more than willing to take this risk. This is exactly why I bribed my way to the border. All of a sudden, one dark night slipped across it and entered South Korea.
There, I immediately asked for political asylum and was granted this status. Now, more than two decades later, I live in Seoul with my wife and two children. Since recently, one grandchild. However, I volunteer in a charity that helps people who escape from North Korea; knowing that I still have a huge debt to pay to all those wretched prisoners I did not help while I was a guard.
Sometimes, I experience a nightmare about those times. But then I wake up and remind myself that my real nightmare ended when I escaped North Korea. Since then, I got a chance to build my life; not simply destroy other people’s lives in slave labour camps in prison.
Click here to check out the first article about Prison Cells and Undue Duress Behind Bars.