Human rights organizations estimate that more than 100,000 people are currently toiling in concentration camps throughout the country, including those convicted of crimes against the state as well as their families–some born in the labor camps and never allowed out.
“The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will grant an amnesty to those who had been convicted of the crimes against the country and people on the occasion of the 70th founding anniversary of the DPRK,” KCNA announced Monday, adding that those affected will be freed on August 1.
As the South Korean news outlet Yonhap noted, the amnesty is being presented as a gesture of goodwill to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.
A recent U.S. State Department report listed among those who may find themselves in a North Korean labor camp “officials perceived to have performed poorly in their job, people who have criticized the regime, and anyone suspected of engaging in anti-government activities.”
The week before that, another government publication, the Uriminzokkiri website, complained that the United States had continued with “the anachronistic human rights racket” in recent talks, an allegedly unacceptable slight.