Blaine Harden, former national correspondent and writer for the New York Times, delivers an agonizing and heartbreaking story of one man’s extremely conflicted life in a labor camp and an endeavor of escaping this place he grew up in. This man’s name is Shin Dong-hyuk. Together, Blaine Harden and Shin Dong-hyuk tell us the story of this man’s imprisonment and escape into South Korea and eventually, the United States, from North Korea. This biography that takes place from 1982-2011, reports to its readers on what is really going on in “one of the world’s darkest nations” (back cover of the book), that is run under a communist state and totalitarian dictatorship that was lead by Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and currently lead by Kim-Jong un. In Escape from Camp 14, Shin shows us the adaptation of his life and how one man can truly evolve from an animal, into a real human being. Shin Dong-hyuk was born in a labor camp, more specifically known as Camp 14. In this camp, Shin was considered to be living “below the law” (3) because of his father’s brother’s crimes. In this camp, Shin went through things many people couldn’t even fathom. He survived on his own. His mother would beat him, his father ignored him, and he trusted no one. “Before he learned anything else, Shin learned to survive by snitching on all of them.” (3). In this camp, the word “family” did not exist. All of this sounds horrific to many people living outside of North Korea, but that’s just the beginning of it. His life became increasingly worse when his mother and brother made the decision to try and escape the camp. On April 5, 1996, Shins older brother, He Guen, came home. As He Guen was talking to Shin’s mother, he overheard that “his brother was in trouble a... ... middle of paper ... ...would recommend it to anybody, even if you know nothing about what goes on in North Korea. I love this book because I always hear about what North Korea does to their prisoners in the labor camps, but no one is ever truly sure of what goes on there since it is so isolated. Blaine Harden and Shin Dong-hyuk really show what this hidden society does on the inside of its country, which is a terror. I commend Shin Dong-hyuk for what he has gotten through in life. The beatings from the guards, the stress of doing something wrong, and the worry of not finding food are things many people could not even imagine. He truly evolved from being an animal, into a human being. Blaine Harden and Shin Dong-hyuk really capture the secrecy and terror that goes on in this totalitarian society and hopefully, because of this, it will one day be stopped. Works Cited escape from camp 14
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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.
In the film “Camp 14: Total Control Zone”, directed by German filmmaker Marc Wiese, consists of narration and animation by North Korean native Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born and grew up in the Kaechon internment camp (known as "Camp 14") in North Korea. Dong-hyuk is clearly traumatized from his time in the camp, as he was born in a place where individual rights were unheard of. The rules of this torture camp consisted of bogus policies such as restricting any and all forms of contact between men and women outside of work and forced reaction that demonstrate “the deepest remorse” for honest mistakes made by inmates (0:19). The most restrictive policy stated that anyone who attempts to escape or helps anyone escape will be shot, thus many family members and “friends” ratted each other out, often with no true reason, out of fear of being reprimanded for knowing about attempted escape plans. Not only were inmates living in a constant state of fear, but the levels of sexual abuse and misconduct in camps is unimaginable, as a women and even children were often violated in front of the eyes of their fathers and brothers, yet any resistance would result in the death of the assaulted and any witnesses (0:25). Methods of torture include acts
1984 demonstrates a dystopian society in Oceania by presenting a relentless dictator, Big Brother, who uses his power to control the minds of his people and to ensure that his power never exhausts. Aspects of 1984 are evidently established in components of society in North Korea. With both of these society’s under a dictator’s rule, there are many similarities that are distinguished between the two. Orwell’s 1984 becomes parallel to the world of dystopia in North Korea by illustrating a nation that remains isolated under an almighty ruler.
In North Korea life was incredibly different, and is still different, from life in America. The residents of North Korea live in extreme poverty, while Kim Jong Il and any member of Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea live as if they were kings; their meals filled with delicacies the citizens of North Korea can only dream of. Although it’s found strange to most in "normal" society, Kim Jong Il is revered as a God, because it is he who gave them all the “luxuries” in North Korea. When in actuality, he is the sole culprit of North Korea’s extreme poverty.
In this chapter Shin rides gets off of the train and lands in a small town where he learns how to cross Tumen river from old guy he meets. The guy basically tells him to bribe guards with food, cigarettes, and cash. Shin crosses the Tumen is helped by an ethnic Korean on the Chinese border even though helping him was illegal. The farmer who helped him gave him a job, clothes, and taught him some Chinese.After a while the the farmer sent him to work for a cattle farmer where he attained a radio and was able to listen to anti North Korea stations. Then he wanders China working at restaurants until he runs into a journalist who helps him get into the South Korean consulate. He is then able to become a South Korean citizen goes discovers he has
The documentary Crossing the Line, encompasses the life of James Joseph Dresnok, an American who defected to North Korea in 1962 and has made the totalitarian state his home. His dreadful childhood and the hardships he faced in life seem to be the driving factor in his decision to defect to North Korea. Director Daniel Gordon takes a neutral stand on Dresnok’s decision and this enables Dresnok to share his view of North Korea. Although this documentary does not provide a clear cut understanding of the unitary nation, as Dresnok has a very biased view of it, it is enough to conjure up prevalent political themes that are present in this documentary. Totalitarianism and realism, propaganda, and corruption, are significant political themes depicted
Cho, G (2008). “Fleshing Out the Ghost”, in Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
North Korea and George Orwell’s 1984 are very similar yet distinct in ways. While 1984 people have very controlled lives and still must obey every will that Big Brother and the Party has for them, as oppose, in North Korea they are free to live on their own and do what they please as long as they remember who the ruler is and worship and praise him everyday. 1984 and North Korea mirror each other in relation to society structure they both have an absolute dictator, a lack in ability to rebel, and have abolished the past whenever possible in order to continue control over their people.
Shin Dong-hyuk is one of the only prisoners to escape from a North Korean concentration camp. According to Blaine Harden, the author of Escape from Camp 14, Shin lived in one of the toughest camps because of the brutal working conditions, the alertness of the guards, and the state's unforgiving view of the gravity of the inmates' crimes, many of them being officials who were kicked out of office, the government, and the military (5). One of Shin's earliest memories of Camp 14 was an execution. He was four years old and didn’t know what was happening, but the memory would scar him for life, much like the other things that happened in the camp.
When someone hears about North Korea, most of the time, they might automatically think of the sadistic, manipulative regime that brainwashes its people. After the Korean War ended, North Korea has become the the most isolated, secretive country in the world (Cripps). However, as of 2010, North Korea has changed its policy to allow foreigners to visit in guided tours (Cripps). When the hermit nation opened the doors to travelers and foreign investments, cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few people to witness the life inside of Pyongyang when he was assigned to oversee the production of a cartoon in a North Korean animation studio. The graphic novel he produced as a result of his visit documents his experiences and provides a rare glimpse behind the
...ountry’s former leader whose political theories define policy decisions” (Index on Censorship; Lee). In what seem to be such trivial things, the forced idolization of the Leader becomes evident and the limits on freedom are obvious (Index on Censorship). With all of this idolization drilled into the minds of citizens, it is no wonder that North Koreans do not realize the need to rebel.
The North Korean regime would have spies in China in order to capture those who were fleeing among the borders to find food or a job, people were easily targeted and brought back in order to force them labor camps. This experience made many of the defectors stop trying but at the same time it made other North Koreans to try harder to not get caught. Many saw that the only way to escape fully was by either giving themselves up to the Mongolian boarder police or find a way to get to South Korea which is not easy even until this day. The South Korean government seems to be very generous by giving these people welfare in order for them to establish themselves in this new and strange country. Something that was shocking is that once the defectors were in South Korea, whenever they would hear bad commentaries towards North Korea and the situations they lived in, they felt offended. There was still something ingrained in them that even after all the lies about their regime and leaders there was still a sense of identity with being fully North Korean. And many believed that the regime would soon collapse allowing them to go back with their families and friends. Demick’s narrative points out how in these six stories involving North Koreans defectors once in South Korea they would experience a massive cultural shock. Many pointed