North Korean defector Jung Gwang Il was accused of collaborating with a South Korean while on business in China, and arrested as he returned home to his wife and two young daughters.
Detained without trial, he was tortured daily by electrocution, and put in the “pigeon position” where a prisoner’s hands and legs are tied before being hung from the ceiling.
For ten unbearable months, Jung Gwang Il was hung upside down or waterboarded until he confessed to being a spy. He was then forced into hard labor at North Korea’s notorious Yodok detention camp for another three years.
“In that first ten months, I dropped from 75kg (165 lbs) to 36kg (79 lbs). I tried to hold out for my family as I knew they would be punished if I confessed,” he said.
But after almost a year he could bear it no longer. His torturers promptly shipped him to Yodok, a grim camp about 65 miles north of Pyongyang.
While others died due to the hard labor, Mr Jung fought to survive. “We willed each other not to die, to believe that we might make it out,” he said of his fellow inmates. Three years later he was released, and casually told he had been found ‘not guilty’.
By that time his home had been destroyed and his family hounded into hiding. They were finally reunited in China after he swam across the Tumen border river to escape.