Prisoners spend long days toiling in rice paddies and factories. Survivors say beatings are frequent, hunger is constant and clothing scarce in the freezing winter.
But experts said that based on past experiences the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor prison probably won't see this side of the nation's notoriously brutal gulag. The reporters — Laura Ling and Euna Lee — will likely be kept apart from North Korean inmates as negotiators try to cut a deal for their release.
"I don't think the reporters will do hard labor. It's simply not in the North Koreans' interests to make them go through that," Roh Jeong-ho, director of the Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia Law School in New York, said Tuesday.
Roh agreed with several other analysts who have said Pyongyang will likely use the women to maximize its leverage in talks with Washington. Discussions have already begun about who would represent the U.S. as an envoy, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Vice President Al Gore named as possibilities.
"We are working, as I said yesterday, in every way open to us to persuade the North Korean government to release the two journalists on a humanitarian basis and we are going to continue to pursue every possible avenue," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.
------------------------Clearly, the harsh sentences are just a ploy by North Korean to increase their negotiating hand.
In my mind, mistreating them would only serve to lower their hand...
Plus, trusted US journalists would be the last people you would want to throw into prison which shows signs of human rights violation...thus giving them the direct ammo needed to tell the story later.