Disturbing new satellite images have emerged out of North Korea confirming that a secret prison where detainees are tortured, raped and murdered is expanding despite the government's denial that such a camp exists.
According to CNN, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea on Tuesday released images of Camp No. 25, a camp near Chongjin, on North Korea's northeast coast, which is thought to be keeping around 5,000 prisoners - including men, women, and children.
The HRNK reports that the map underwent an expansion before 2010, when it almost doubled in scale, and has continued to operate at its larger size.
"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," HRNK executive director Greg Scarlatoiu said in a statement.
The discovery was made just a few weeks after Amnesty International released a report revealing that Pyongyang "is continuing to maintain, and even invest, in these repressive facilities."
"These camps constitute the cornerstone of the country's large infrastructure dedicated to political repression and social control that enables widespread and systematic human rights abuses," Amnesty said in a statement.
"Assessments of the satellite images of two political prison camps -- known as kwanliso -- collected in May and August show the addition of new guard posts, upgrading of a reported crematorium, and ongoing agricultural activities."
A 2014 UN report estimated that "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" have died in the North Korean gulags over the past 50 years amid "unspeakable atrocities."
"The inmate population has been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights," the report said.
North Korea heads Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution for the 14th consecutive year now. A report released last month by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide said that thousands of those suffering in the country's labor camps are Christians who, in some cases, are hung on a cross over a fire, and at times crushed under a steamroller.
Canadian pastor Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, leader of Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is among those suffering in the country's prison camp system. As earlier reported, Pastor Lim was involved in North Korea since 1997 and had established a number of churches and orphanages in the isolated country. He was arrested last year, and in a confession that appeared to be coerced, the pastor admitted he had attempted to "overturn the social system" by "building a religious state."
During an interview with CNN earlier this year, the pastor, who struggles with a number of health issues, revealed that he works eight hours a day, six days a week, with rest breaks, digging holes for the planting of apple trees in the prison orchard. He said he has not seen any other prisoners, and is not allowed contact with the outside world.
An online petition calling on Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, and Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion to work to free Rev. Lim has gained more than 125,000 signatures.