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Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Paperback – April 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
How this man survived the brutality of a 'Total Control' North Korean prison camp is impossible to conceive. From watching classmates being beaten to death and his mother and brother being executed, to being tortured over hot coals at the age of 13 and suffering near starvation for the first 24 years of his life, to the soul-destroying work ethic and unparalleled cruelty of the prison guards, how Shin Dong-hyuk is still alive, let alone now living happily in America, is breathtaking. His story is heartbreaking from the very beginning, yet his ability to keep on going in the face of absolute punishment will inspire all who read about it. The worst day you've ever had, will likely pale in comparison to a normal day in the life of this guy.
Blaine Harden has done a great job of presenting the details, and obviously cultivated a strong relationship with Shin. The book is short but there's more than enough in there for you to appreciate the gravity of the situation in North Korea, and its relationship with both South Korea and China.
Worth every penny.
Escape From Camp 14 is his story as told to Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden. It details the inhuman existence that is life within Camp 14, where prisoners are pressured to inform on each other including their own family, where punishments are harsh and handed out at the whim of their superiors be they prison guards or fellow prisoners designated as supervisors. Life is cheap within Camp 14, beatings can be so extreme they result in death, there are regular public executions and possibly much more regular private executions. Anyone caught trying to escape is executed, and members of their family face reprisals. Born into such an existence Shen knew no other way of life, he knew nothing of the world outside of the camp, that is until he met a new inmate who gradually enlightened him, and fuelled his desire for escape.
This is an easy read in that the prose is fluent and very accessible, but it if far from an easy read when considering its content, the descriptions of life in Camp 14 do not make for comfortable reading. Harden eases the readers progress through Shin's harrowing account by regularly interspersing it with facts about life in North Korea, Korea's history and its relations with the rest of the world.
This is a story that deserves to be told, and that needs to be read.Read more ›
Shin was born in a North Korean labor camp in 1982. His "crime," as he learned many years later, was that two of his uncles defected from North Korea to South Korea (as tens of thousands of others did)--in 1951. He is the only known person born in a North Korean labor camp to escape and defect.
His treatment was horrifying--and routine. In camp he was starved and beaten all the time--as was every other prisoner. His earliest memory is of an execution (everyone in the camp, including children, had to watch them). As a punishment when he broke a sewing machine, a guard cut off one of his fingers.
No matter what I write, you cannot understand the brutality of Camp 14 unless you read this book. Blaine Harden's cold, unsparing prose tells Shin's story in a way that anyone can read it, though no one will quite believe it (I knew Blaine for years while he worked at The Washington Post. I don't believe I'm influenced in the least by my admiration for him in what I'm writing--the shock of the book is too great for that).
There are no answers to the questions raised by Escape from Camp 14. The State Department estimates that 200,000 people live in such camps (you can see them on Google Earth), and most live out their short lives there since they are worked unsparingly and given little food and few clothes. What should be done about it? I don't know. But those who read this amazing book will know a few things about the North Korean regime that others cannot.
This book has deeply affected me. I view food differently now. It has even affected my relationships.
I must issue a warning however. The events in this narrative are truly disturbing. It has been less than 24 hours since I finished reading Escape from Camp 14 and I can't stop thinking about Shin.
Fortunately, Blaine Harden provides a detailed bibliography for the interested reader which I definitely plan to consult.
Truly, North Korea is the world's largest prison and Shin's account deserves to be heard. The Kim family in North Korea must and will answer for the crimes against Shin and the thousands of others who have suffered at their hands. To settle for anything less is simply not human.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This guy's story is gripping. I would love to meet him some day.Published 23 hours ago by abookreader
I can not believe some of the petty ass comments I'm reading. This man was tortured for years and years, I don't find it surprising it all that he changed his story some, I feel... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
it is a unique perspective of life in a Korean concentration camp, from birth to death. the most informative book I've ever read on the subject.Published 9 days ago by Maria Allred
This is an important read. Blaine Harden does an excellent job of situating Shin's stunningly atrocious story of survival within the history of North Korea.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Reads like a long news article. It is not really a story. It's interesting if that is what you're into, but I thought it was going to be more like a memoir.Published 10 days ago by Laura Sweeney
The book started off like a rocket, but pretty much fell to earth by the end. Shin Dong-hyuk seems to be the only prisoner to escape from Camp 14 in North Korea;s rugged... Read morePublished 18 days ago by zorba
Worth every single penny. Knowing how actually NK camps works, literally shocked me.Published 18 days ago by Alberto
Gosh, this book is amazing.
I couldn't put it down and my kids are now reading.