The media has been, and still is, infatuated with the horrors of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, Darfur, and many other historic tragedies of man's inhumanity to man. Yet, little has been publicized of the ongoing torture camps in North Korea, which have been in operation since at least World War II. They are called "political work camps" and currently house over 200,000 prisoners. Even with so many victims, it remains a largely unspoken mystery, and this is primarily because there are few who know its truths and live to tell. Such are the ways of totalitarian North Korea and the treacherous work camps within her borders.
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West is the story of one young man who dared to escape this life and one of the very few to survive the experience. Shin Dong-hyuk had been born into the notorious Camp 14 and raised there with no understanding of the outside world. He knew nothing of love, pride, or comfort. He fought for food, begged for survival, and even turned over his escaping family to the guards for a little more bread. His family was executed before his eyes and he felt no regret, simply because he hadn't been raised to understand that feeling. Shin only knew to do what was necessary for survival. A time came when he caught wind of an outside world, and with that little taste of freedom came a desire to run.
This heart-wrenching book is not for those with a weak stomach, as it spares no detail in Shin's terrible experiences both in the camp and outside. It recounts his life growing up in the camp, and subsequently his perilous escape and subsequent journey through the North Korean countryside, China, and eventually to the United States. The author also explores Shin Dong-hyuk's post-traumatic struggles today and his continued efforts to balance his past with his present – two entirely different worlds that do not blend smoothly.
Blaine Harden is a journalist who has worked for The Washington Post, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and The Economist. He spent over a year interviewing Shin Dong-hyuk and piecing together his story. He is currently working on a follow-up book that will further exploit the horrors of North Korean policy.
The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived
North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped—but Shin Dong-hyuk did.
In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and, through the lens of Shin’s life, unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence: he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden’s harrowing narrative of Shin’s life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival. Download and start listening now!