North Korean Prison Database

A comprehensive and growing archive of international human rights law violations and atrocities that occur inside the North Korean prison system.

Launched in March 2022, the North Korean Prison Database (NKPD) is a comprehensive and growing archive of international human rights law violations and atrocities that occur inside the North Korean prison system. The NKPD is available in English and Korean and was developed by Korea Future with support from HURIDOCS.

There is a vast number of correctional facilities in North Korea, capable of detaining hundreds of thousands of suspects and those accused of crimes. The Workers’ Party of Korea is responsible for continuous and large-scale violations of international human rights law with catastrophic consequences. Until now, there exists little evidence to hold those accountable who are implicated in crimes and violations of the human rights of individuals detained in North Korean penal facilities. The database, which is built on Uwazi, preserves and manages selected evidence gathered through detailed investigations of violations.

As part of their investigations, Korea Future interviewed 259 survivors, perpetrators and witnesses, and thousands of pages of testimony were documented in the process. In addition, the investigation sourced internal documents as well as photographic and video evidence from inside North Korea. To understand the locations in which the violations occurred, satellite imagery and digitalling modelling techniques are used to chart the internal structures and architectures of penal facilities. This includes a 3D model of a detention centre in Onsong County, which shows the interior of a North Korean prison for the first time.

The violations documented in the database include, but are not limited to:

  • arbitrary detention
  • systematic torture
  • widespread starvation
  • inhumane, overcrowded, and unsanitary conditions of detention
  • the denial of fair trial rights
  • pervasive sexual violence
  • unlawful forced labour
  • death.

So far, Korea Future has identified 597 perpetrators linked to 5 181 human rights violations committed against 785 detainees in 148 penal facilities. The findings are also published in this report.