It just sounded too good to be true at the time for a reason. The notorious Camp 22 gulag in North Korea, which was believed to have been shut down in June due to mass defections, appears to be "operational."
"Operational" is a vague term in this context, but it mainly alludes to the continuation of harvesting crops and producing coal by prisoners. Camp 22 is known as the most sordid of North Korean gulags--it's located on the most northeastern corner of the country, bordering China and the ocean. This is the camp that prisoners dread the most because surviving this particular location is so rare.
I've been privileged to work side by side with some of the talented people at HRNK. Their satellite imagery of North Korea (provided by DigitalGlobe) virtually paved the way for the images we now have of Sudan, for example. They really deserve more kudos in this regard.
Can you imagine if we had this technology during WWII? It might have given those Holocaust-deniers something to chew on. But perhaps I'm overestimating people, as I still sometimes encounter "bubble-dwellers" who are still defiantly skeptical of what's going on in North Korea to this day despite the information we have now. I know, some people simply don't like to learn about atrocities on this scale if they took place outside of WWII. Which is too bad, because these kinds of manmade problems certainly are not exclusive to one war or time period--history has shown us this over and over again.