Foreign Policy Health

Report: North Korea’s Nuclear Tests Causing Horrifying Radiation Deaths and Illnesses

Following the report last month that North Korea’s nuclear testing site had collapsed, details about the effects of North Korea’s nuclear tests are emerging. A recent defector from North Korea shared their story about what life in a village in Kilju county near Mt. Mantap, North Korea’s nuclear testing site was like. All water sources were contaminated, giving many in the village a deadly dose of radiation. Many in the village are suffering from incurable diseases caused by radiation poisoning, as well as fetal deformities. All food that the North Korean villagers have grown with the contaminated water is also contaminated with high levels of radiation, leaving the villagers starving with chronic radiation sickness. North Korea’s nuclear material is mostly taken out of the ground in a very dangerous way, exposing water sources and their citizens to deadly amounts of radiation. At Hwasong Concentration Camp, less than 10 miles from Mt. Mantap, prisoners are sent to mine for Uranium for the rest of their lives, as they are quarantined in the camp forever in horrifying conditions. Prisoners are forced to catch snakes and rats to feed themselves, while completing hours of hard and dangerous labor exposed to toxic radioactive material.

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Laborers in North Korea. Image Courtesy of Wong Maye-E/Associated Press.

Scientists have said that it is likely the radiation has been leaking for years out of Mt. Mantap, but the recent collapse of the testing site has likely leaked a catastrophic amount of radiation, some reportedly detected in South Korea. Nuclear testing in North Korea has caused thousands to be exposed to toxic radiation, and the collapse of the Punggye-ri testing site inside Mt. Mantap last month likely leaked a catastrophic amount of radioactive material. Just last month, the collapse of the Punggye-ri testing site killed 200 North Korean scientists and military personnel. North Korea will likely rebuild tunnels and construct a new testing site, continuing to use Mt. Mantap to test its nuclear weapons and threatening the safety of its own people and surrounding countries.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
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