SEOUL, April 22 (UPI) -- A Venezuelan communist poet toiled seven years in a North Korean labor camp as a prisoner of conscience in the 1960s before being allowed to return to his country.
An account of Ali Lameda's experience was published in Venezuelan newspaper La Voz on April 11, Yonhap reported.
Lameda first visited North Korea in the mid-1960s upon invitation of the Kim Il Sung regime. He had translated some of Kim's lectures into Spanish, and North Korea honored him with a free apartment and a chauffeured vehicle, according to the report.
But the privileges were taken away after North Korean authorities intercepted a letter Lameda wrote to his family detailing the difficulty of everyday life for ordinary North Koreans.
Lameda was charged with spying for the U.S. CIA, and received a 20-year prison sentence.
As a prisoner of conscience, Lameda was forced to work 12 hours a day at a North Korean labor camp until his release in September 1974.
He worked at a car parts assembly line, and in his spare time wrote poetry to ease his suffering as a forced laborer, according to the report.
North Korea's political prison camps have been at the center of human rights inquiries, and the number of prisoners at North Korean camps is about 80,000, according to a recent estimate from South Korean NGO North Korea Human Rights Database Center.