North Korea has been accused of using prisoners from the Hwasong concentration camp to rebuild the supposedly demolished Punggye-ri nuclear testing facility. An unnamed source has claimed that Kim Jong-un is "working prisoners to death" at the site.
It has been claimed that North Korea is rebuilding a reportedly demolished nuclear testing facility using political prisoners as labourers and "working them to death."
The west considered Punggye-ri nuclear test site as a threat, North Korea supposedly demolished the site in 2018, just before the first meeting between Kim Jong-un and then president Donald Trump.
Since then several rumours have been passed around claiming that Kim Jong-un is rebuilding the facility, most of those have come from satellite images that appear to show new activity at Punggye-ri.
Most recently, it has been reported that Kim Jong-un is using prisoners of war to complete the project.
Daily NK, a South Korean newspaper reported that an anonymous source had said: "Prisoners are being worked to death in secret tunnels and places that are too dangerous for ordinary people to be sent.
"They aren't given any food beyond the minimum or allowed any food from outside. Many of them are dying on the job."
The source never mentioned Punggye-ri directly, however, this is the only nuclear weapons testing site that is in close proximity to the camp he did mention - Hwasong, also known as Camp 16.
Hwasong concentration camp is a labour camp for political prisoners and is just over 20km away from Punggye-ri. The camp is considered one of the harshest in the country and was built for prisoners who had no chance of ever being released.
The source explained one of the reasons that he believes these prisoners are being used for work at Punggye-ri. Hwasong has increased staffing levels in certain areas, the source said: "While the number of management staff largely remains unchanged, the number of sentries, guards and armed transport staff has been tripled.
"These are the kind of workers who would be needed to put prisoners on secret work projects outside of the camp walls."
According to this particular source, he believes that the North Korean government has amended its own laws to allow this forced, secret labour possible.
It was also claimed that Kim Jong-un has passed the responsibility of the camp from the Ministry of State Security to the Ministry of Social Security.
This change would have made it legal to transfer prisoners who would otherwise not be allowed to leave the camp under any circumstances, according to the claims.
The source added: "These measures were taken so that the prisoners can be taken by armed guards to work on the construction of tunnels and special bases that are off-limits to the public."
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), which has extensively documented the prison camps in the country, said it would continuously look for any changes at Hwasong via monitoring satellite images.
Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of HRNK, said: "As to the use of prisoners inside the nuclear test tunnels, that is possible, especially given the proximity of Camp 16 to the nuclear test facility.
"The use of prison labour for digging of the tunnels into hard rock is unlikely, as that requires heavy-duty drills, rather than picks and hammers
"But the use of the prisoners in clean-up operations after the nuclear tests or in restoring the testing sites, as this report describes, makes sense to me."
This new claim comes as Kim Jong-un continues to broadcast North Korea's nuclear weapons, demanding that the world accepts the country as a nuclear power.
Last month Jong-un said to the nation: "We will continue to take steps to strengthen and develop our nation's nuclear capabilities at the fastest pace."