It was a decade ago that she left, but she retains vivid memories of the smell of the concrete barracks.
For almost 10 years Lee So Yeon slept on the bottom bunk bed, in a room she shared with more than two dozen women. Every woman was
given a small set of drawers in which to store their uniforms. On top of those drawers each kept two framed photographs. One was of North
Korea's founder Kim Il-sung. The second was of his now deceased heir, Kim Jong-il.
"We sweat quite a bit.
"The mattress we sleep on, it's made of the rice hull. So all the body odour seeps into the mattress. It's not made of cotton. Because it's rice
hull, all the odour from sweat and other smells are there. It's not pleasant."
One of the reasons for this was the state of the washing facilities.
"As a woman, one of the toughest things is that we can't shower properly," says Lee So Yeon.
"Because there is no hot water. They connect a hose to the mountain stream and have water directly from the hose.