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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Ahn Myeong Chul

Interviewed August 4, 2014

There has been some change in the number of camps since I left [in 1994]. Back when I joined the prison camps as a guard [in 1987], there were 12 political prison camps with a total of 300,000 prisoners.

I understand that in the late 1980s to the early 1990s, for several reasons, there was some restructuring. So to my knowledge, today there are a total of six prison camps with 150,000 prisoners.

[Estimates of the current total number of political prisoners in North Korea range from 80,000 to 200,000.]

As for the area of each political prison camp, the largest one that I worked in is about one-third as large as Seoul.

[The city of Seoul has an area of 605 square kilometers or 239 square miles. The Hoeryong Camp (Camp 22), one of the prisons where Ahn Myeong Chul worked, has an area of 225 square kilometers, or 87 square miles. The largest camp, Hwasong (Camp 16) has an area of 549 square kilometers or 212 square miles.]

I had a chance to visit four other prison camps and the size can vary according to the area and the amount of people.