Escape From Camp 14

Escape From Camp 14

One Man's Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West

Book - 2012
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A New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies , will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.

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 Donghyuk 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.

Publisher: New York : Viking Penguin, 2012.
ISBN: 9780670023325
0670023329
Characteristics: xvi, 205 p. : ill., maps.
Alternative Title: Escape from Camp Fourteen

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h
htliang
Jun 16, 2017

This is a truly unsettling book. Later changes to Shin's story as revealed on the author's website add to the confusion as to what is real & what is fabricated. How much of this story is accurate is known only to Shin. He does, however, bear the scars of severe torture which backs up most of his story.

According to this book, Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside a high-security North Korean prison (Camp 14). He was raised without love, hope, friendship, or knowledge of the outside world. Most of his thoughts revolved around finding enough food to survive. After short encounters with two prisoners who had known life outside the camp, twenty-three-year-old Shin considered escaping. No one had survived an escape attempt before Shin.

This is the story of Shin's early life, his escape, and his later struggle to fit into materialistic and achievement-oriented South Korean society. "I am evolving from being an animal...Sometimes I try to cry and laugh like other people, just to see if it feels like anything..."

m
McBainF1
Apr 26, 2016

I have not read a more tragic story. An unimaginable life. there is no doubt that Shin has been tortured inside and out.

Updates to the book can be found on the author's website and make the book even more tragic because of the torment that Shin must be feeling inside. This whole situation is a travesty to all of humanity. Sickening.

For even more disturbing views, a movie was produced on this story and two guards are interviewed in the movie. Despicable people, all carefully created by the Kim dynasty. When will the world do something. It can be found on youtube.

h
heidiup1
Mar 15, 2016

Very well written. There are some unresolved controversies, but Harden partly dealt with those in this edition.

l
lukasevansherman
Sep 08, 2015

Some other recent books about North Korea: "A Kim Jong-Il Production," "Without You, There is No Us," and "Pyongyang." They're all non-fiction, but the latter is a graphic novel.

bibliotechnocrat May 14, 2015

Imagine growing up in an enormous prison, guilty not because of something you've done, but because your uncle committed the terrible crime of moving to another country. Welcome to the warpo world of North Korea where guilt by association is punishable by life in a labour camp. A camp where life expectancy is somewhere around 40 years old, food is scarce, and inmates are pitted against each other. It's a place where the foundations of civilization have been undercut, even decimated. This is an eye-opening and disturbing read.

s
SusannahElf
Dec 30, 2014

I wish I could have read this book to the end but the writing was appalling. In a single sentence the author makes reference to the past, present and future, rather than present the facts in a straightforward manner. The story came across as muddled and un-edited, like a stream of consciousness recollection that does not do service to the gravity of the material.

roddubé Dec 15, 2014

Riviting. Shocking and horrific. Well contextualized with political and historical detail. Frequent evaluation of the veracity of the facts of the story.

n
notthatjenn
Oct 22, 2014

Escaping the inescapable North Korean prison camps is an incredible story, but this narrative suffers from a lack of pathos. I don't know if it's the writer who failed to convey the true horror or Shin Dong-hyuk who was unable or unwilling to provide the necessary details, but what should have been a nuclear bomb of a book fails to engage on the human level, which is what we need to understand such extraordinary depths of cruelty.

s
stewstealth
Sep 12, 2014

The story of an inmate born into a North Korean prison camp for the sins of his fathers. A harrowing tale that should be read by everyone to shine some light on a brutal regime.

s
Sublurbanite
Jun 27, 2014

See modestgoddess's review below. I whole-heartedly concur, and encountered the same thoughts and feelings. If you want to know what things are really like in the secret state of North Korea, read this book.

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