22 June 2023 :
Five inmates at the concentration camp in the Susong District (otherwise known as Camp No. 25 in Chongjin) were executed by firing squad in broad daylight in mid-May, according to a source in the country on June 19, 2023, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
According to the source, inmates in one section of the prison camp were outside on a work detail in mid-May when two of the workers were found missing during roll call.
Prison camp officials soon found the missing workers, who had collapsed in a shaded area. But the jailers were so annoyed by the incident that they punished the two by making them stand in the blazing sunlight while holding a bucket of water on their necks. Then one of the other inmates was put watch over them.
When one of the inmates grew faint and nearly dropped the bucket, the inmate who was watching stepped forward to help. Seeing that, the jailers decided to make an example of the inmate on the grounds that helping someone being disciplined out of pity is grounds for receiving the same discipline.
Those two inmates were then made to balance a bucket of water on a wooden plank resting on their shoulders. Their fates were tied together — if either of them moved, it would send the bucket tumbling to the ground, with more punishment in store.
While the three inmates were being thus disciplined, the inmate who was balancing the bucket of water on their neck passed out and fell to the ground. Leaving that inmate where they had fallen, the jailers called over the inmate responsible for monitoring the others and the inmate in charge of the roll call and gave them the same punishment.
By subjecting the monitor to collective punishment, the jailers apparently meant to encourage the other monitors to be more diligent about observing and controlling the inmates.
Now there were four inmates being punished in pairs of two.
After a while, all four dropped to the ground at the same time, as if on cue. The jailers demanded they stand up, but one of the inmates said, “I’d rather you just killed me!” The refrain was taken up by the other three inmates.
Soldiers who were monitoring the situation from a guard post noticed the disturbance and immediately arrived at the scene carrying machine guns.
Since inmates at a political prison camp are forbidden from speaking without permission of the jailers, these inmates’ behavior was treated as serious insubordination. An execution order was issued, and the four inmates who had been punished and the one who had fainted were immediately shot in front of the other inmates at the worksite.
“At the end of May, the central headquarters of the Ministry of State Security was notified that a collective disturbance had occurred and been dealt with according to regulations. At the beginning of June, the ministry sent cadres to the camp to confirm what had happened. The cadres wrote in their final report that several inmates who had tried to mob a jailer were executed on the spot according to internal guidelines,” the source said.
In North Korea, some political prison camps are run by the Ministry of State Security, while others are run by the Ministry of Social Security. The camp in the Susong District of Chongjin is among those run by the Ministry of State Security.
“This incident wasn’t reported to the Central Committee. The jailer who was responsible for the incident was transferred to another section of the same prison camp, but that transfer wasn’t intended as a reprimand,” the source said.