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N. Korea locks up 154,000 political prisoners: lawmaker

All Headlines 13:33 October 17, 2009

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is operating six prison camps where 154,000 inmates remain locked up, a South Korean lawmaker said Saturday.

According to Yoon Sang-hyun from the ruling Grand National Party, the North had around 10 such places holding about 200,000 political prisoners until the late 1990s. But the communist state closed down four of the camps in the face of mounting criticism from other countries.

North Korea often denies holding any political prisoners, stressing that there are no human rights abuse.

The lawmaker claimed that political prisoners are forced to work more than 10 hours a day and receive only 200 grams of foods a day. They are also denied access to medical care, he said.

People incarcerated in the political prison camps include political opponents or those who lost out in power struggles. Ordinary people are also imprisoned for making disrespectful remarks about the country's leader Kim Jong-il.

sam@yna.co.kr
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