Shin Dong-Hyuk was born a prisoner in Camp 14, a long established North Korean labor camp. The author, a writer who has set up a series of interviews with Shin to reveal his life story and his incredible status as the only person born in a North Korean labor camp to escape. He grew up learning to snitch on his friends and family would earn him food in an environment where almost everyone was always starving. His parents were chosen because of their “good behavior” in the camp to get married and have children; they could only see each other five days per year. Common camp activities included: executions for those who tried to escape, beatings for anyone caught stealing food or misbehaving, and prisoners disappearing if they tried to speak out against the leaders of the camp. Shin learned quickly to keep his head down, food being his only motivation, if he was going to survive this living hell.
Shin’s education was a strict curriculum of basic math, limited north korean approved history and learning to read and write. Every morning, he and his class had to recite the Ten Commandments of the labor camp; the first rule being that to try to escape the camp would result in execution. The camp taught its prisoners that they were worthless, nothing, disposable; those who were born inside the camp never knew anything of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, or companionship. Prisoners were not allowed to be in a group of two or more without permission from guards so there was little chance to make friends and find courage in each other. Therefore, Shin could only rely on himself to avoid being beaten and to get the food necessary to survive.
One day, Shin had a day off from school to visit his mother and his older brother in his moth...
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...es and immorality. This book accomplished its goal to open reader’s eyes to the sort of horrors that go on just a couple hundred or thousand miles away from us; these human beings are alive and being tortured as we sleep in our warm beds and eat an abundance of food in our huge houses. A guard told Shin once that the reason prisoners are kept starving is because “through hunger, you will repent” as if he had done something wrong. This kind of thinking is wrong and only through education of human rights can these acts of horror can be eradicated.
Cooper, Anderson. "60 Minutes: A Face in the Crowd, Three Generations of Punishment, Micheal Jackson." 60 Minutes. CBS. United States, 19 May 2013. Television.
Harden, Blaine. Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
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