Former prisoners who survived the horrific experiences exposed the harsh conditions at Chongori concentration camp. North Koreans are sent to the camp for acts including following the Christian faith and watching South Korean TV.
One former prisoner said: “Every Monday, we burned the corpses… there’s a place that looked like a house, and we piled the corpses in the round tank in it.
“The facility was drenched in the smell of blood and rotting or burning corpses.
“After burning the corpses, they stacked up ashes next to the cremation site. The ashes were used as a compost for farming.
“When it rained, the ashes flowed into the river, and the prisoners drank the river water and used it to shower.”
The former prisoners also said that on rainy days the wood became wet making it harder for bodies to burn.
At one time, they accidentally tripped over disembodied toes.
The former prisoner added: “I fell on something. At first, I thought I was stuck on a tree, but when I looked closer, it was a toe.
“I climbed the mountain following the ash and there were five toes right in front of me. I was so surprised.”
HRNK used satellite imagery to photograph the location of the camp and crematorium.
The images revealed worksites, one of which the organisation have said is a copper mine which also contaminates the river water.
The lead author of the report, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. said: “We know people are suffering beyond imagination.
“The atrocities committed throughout North Korea’s vast system of unlawful imprisonment require the immediate attention of the international community.”
Amanda Mortwedt Oh, a co-authored on the report, said: “The lack of human dignity afforded to prisoners is beyond repugnant, and the Kim regime must be held to account for such actions.”
The executive director of HRNK, Greg Scarlatoiu, spoke about the “crimes” that that prisoners had committed.
He said: “Behaviour that is perfectly normal in most other countries is criminalised in North Korea.
“This includes practising religion, especially Christianity, and possessing a Bible, and accessing information from the outside world, in particular any South Korean material like soap operas.
“It even includes ‘mishandling’ or ‘disrespecting’ a newspaper page containing the picture of the North Korean leader or his father or grandfather.
“Anything along those lines results in imprisonment at a North Korean detention facility.”