The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea was established in March by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in North Korea.”
More than 40 witnesses — some of them newly arrived from North Korea — recently testified before representatives from the U.N. inquiry commission in Seoul, and they detailed horrific abuse at the hands of their captors.
One of those who testified was Jeong Kwang Il, a North Korean defector once worked for a North Korean trading company that he said dealt with China and South Korea.That ended abruptly in 1999, when he was arrested by government security agents, he said. “These people were beating me with clubs, and they said I should confess that I am a spy. But I told them. ‘I’m not a spy.’ But they kept beating me — for two weeks.”
After undergoing “pigeon torture,” in which he was hung upside down with his hands cuffed behind his back, he confessed to what he told the commission he had never done. “I could not endure this any more so I confessed that I was given a spy’s job from South Korea,” he said. “I had given up.”
Jeong said he was then taken to a political camp, where he spent three years before he was released to discover that his home was no longer where it had been, and he could not find his family.
“I felt betrayed,” he said. “I decided that I was done in North Korea.”
After a year-long escape route that took him through China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, Jeong arrived in South Korea in 2004, where he has started a new life, but not forgotten the old one.
“Even if they give me a lot of money, I will not go back to that country,” he vowed.