HRNK and All Source Analysis Launch New Satellite Imagery Report on North Korea’s Political Prison Camp No. 25
November 29, 2016
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with AllSource Analysis (AllSource), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have launched a report entitled North Korea’s Camp No. 25 - Update 2. This is the third HRNK satellite imagery report on Camp No. 25, updating the findings of assessments of the same detention facility published in February 2013 and June 2014. Political Prison Camp No. 25 (a.k.a. Kwan-li-so No. 25) is located in Susong-dong, Chongjin-si, North Hamgyong Province, on the northeast coast of North Korea. Compared to other political prison camps, which occupy larger areas, Camp No. 25 is tightly confined and more similar to a penitentiary. While open-source information on the camp continues to be scarce, the Camp No. 25 political prisoner population is estimated to be at around 5,000.
The report is the latest step in a collaborative endeavor by HRNK and AllSource to create a clear picture of the evolution and current state of North Korea’s political prison camps. For this report, AllSource analyzed pan-sharpened multispectral satellite imagery of Camp No. 25 and its immediate environs collected by DigitalGlobe from January 18, 2003 through September 21, 2015, and USGS declassified KH-4B from May 28, 1970 and KH-9 from January 1, 1976.
Camp No. 25 is run by the Seventh (Prisons) Bureau of the State Security Department (SSD), which is de facto controlled by the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD). As confirmed by previous reports, the camp went through an expansion, in particular between 2009 and 2010, when its size increased by 72 percent, from 565,424 square meters to 972,270 square meters. All but one of the 41 guard positions identified by HRNK and AllSource in the June 2014 report are still standing and well maintained. The guard posts are positioned to provide overlapping fields-of-view of the camp. The report also identifies a small 14 meter by 9 meter (15 yard by 9 yard) single-story building inside a small 25 meter by 25 meter (27 yard by 27 yard) walled compound overlooked by seven guard positions. The size and construction of that compound within the larger camp are not consistent with North Korean practices for the storage of heavy equipment or munitions. The smaller compound may perform functions including that of detention facility for high value prisoners.
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., internationally recognized analyst and award-winning author, said: “The recent HRNK/AllSource report on Camp No. 25 confirms that primary economic activities likely carried out with prison labor are centered on agriculture and light industry.” HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu commented: “It continues to be difficult to quantify the precise economic importance of the slave labor provided by North Korea’s political prison camps. That said, our satellite imagery analysis of Camp No. 25 and other such unlawful detention facilities appears to confirm the sustained, if not increased importance of the use of forced labor under Kim Jong-un.”
Scarlatoiu further added: “Due to an intensified crackdown on attempted defections, the imprisonment of forcibly repatriated refugees, the purging of senior officials, together with associates and family members, and the possible transfer of prisoners from camps in the border areas that are now closed, Camp No. 25 underwent a twofold expansion in 2009-2010. Recent satellite imagery analysis indicates that Camp No. 25 continues to be fully operational at the expanded scale.”
The report North Korea’s Camp No. 25 – Update 2 is available on HRNK’s website: