N Korea tests weapons on people: BBC
feb 1, 2004
A program made by Britain's BBC says North Korea is killing political prisoners in experimental gas chambers and testing new chemical weapons on women and children.
Titled Access to Evil and being aired on Sunday, the program features an official North Korean document that says political prisoners are used to test new chemical weapons.
In a statement, the BBC said the documentary included comments by Kwon Hyuk, a new name given to a former military attache at the North Korean embassy in Beijing and chief of management at Prison Camp 22.
Using a drawing, he describes a gas chamber and the victims he says he saw at the prison in the north-east of the secretive communist state, near the Russian border.
"I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber. The parents, son and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing," he said.
"Normally, a family sticks together (in the gas chamber)... and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass."
Asked how he felt about the children, he said: "It would be a total lie for me to say I felt sympathetic about the children dying such a painful death. Under the society and the regime I was in at the time, I only felt that they were the enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them at all."
The documentary was made for the BBC's This World series.
North Korean officials in London were unavailable to comment.
BBC journalist Olenka Frenkiel told Reuters she had three independent confirmations that Kwon Hyuk was genuine.
The human rights group Amnesty International said it had been unable to confirm previous reports of such testing.
"We have heard of these allegations but we cannot confirm them," a spokeswoman said.
North Korea - described by US President George W Bush as part of an "axis of evil" because of a nuclear weapons program and authoritarian system - has denied accusations of human rights abuses.
A top secret North Korean document also says political prisoners are used for "human biological experimentation and for production of biological weapons", the BBC said.
It interviews a person said to be a former prisoner in North Korea who had been ordered to poison others.
"An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners. One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women," Sun Ok Lee said, according to the BBC statement.
"All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes, they were quite dead."
Frenkiel said she had also seen other official North Korean documents, one of which referred to the transfer of a prisoner "for the purpose of human experimentation of liquid gas for chemical weapons" in February 2002.