Park Ji-hyun narrated stories of how prisoners in North Korean Labour camps were required to work from the crack of dawn until it became pitched dark.
Park Ji-hyun narrated stories of how prisoners in North Korean Labour camps were required to work from the crack of dawn until it became pitched dark.YouTube/ Screenshot/Amnesty International UK

A North Korean defector has narrated horrifying details on the harsh reality of life inside the nation's infamous detention and labour camps.  

Park Ji-hyun who escaped the cruel prison camps of the reclusive regime in the 1990s narrated stories of how prisoners were required to work from the crack of dawn until midnight, but were hardly fed.

Even menstruating women were barred from taking breaks and punished if they were caught washing their sanitary napkins.

Desperate for food and water, starving women would devour raw potatoes after digging them straight from the ground, with dirt still on them.

Prisoners even went to the extent of picking up seeds out of animal dung while many others would cry tears of joy if they were lucky enough to find leftover food strewn over the ground for animals such as dogs and cows.

Park – who is currently living in asylum in the UK—narrated the horrific episodes of her life in an Amnesty International documentary called "The Other Interview: Escape from North Korea", in which the human rights groups makes an attempt to understand the torture and inhumanity inside labour camps in the cruel, nuclear- armed country.

"Really it was unspeakably bad. You could say the whole of North Korea is one big prison," Park said.

"The people are all hungry. And now, there aren't even rats, snakes or wild plants left for them to eat," she added.

The woman spent a year inside one of the notorious detention camps in the country after being deported from China where she had initially escaped after being sold by a human trafficker. She later managed to once again flee the country after contacting the same trafficker who took her to China where she found her long-estranged son who was left hungry and unattended.

During her first escape, a heart-broken Park had left her dying father behind, paid agents for her escape to China, but authorities there soon nabbed her. She was deported to North Korea where she was branded "economic defector" and put inside camps where prisoners were tortured and enslaved.

"We were worked harder than animals," she says in the video.

"Our working day began at 4.30am, before we could have anything to eat. In the summer when the days are longer, we would work until 8pm or 9pm in the evening.

"We would only stop working when it got pitch dark. And the day doesn't end there.

"After eating we had to reflect on our day's performance, recite the Worker's Party's principles and learn songs. By that time, it'd be close to midnight."

Park also recounts the episodes where she and fellow inmates were sent to mountains in the Ranam district of the country, where they were forced to clear mountainsides to create terraced fields. That was when desperate women weren't even fed while being forced to clear the entire mountain with bare hands.

"Four women had to pull an oxcart, two in the front and two in the back, carrying a ton of soil in the cart.

"We wouldn't do this at a walking pace either. We had to run."

Recalling another horrifying instance of ill-treatment, the woman said: "'If you got caught trying to wash your sanitary towel, you were ordered to wear it on your head, dripping blood and all, and beg for forgiveness."

Watch the video below:

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