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on May 20, 2014
This is my first book review. I am a voracious reader. However, I did not write a book review until I listened to the audio book. One of the reasons that I did not write a book review was because I was not a native English speaker. Writing in English was not easy to me. However, after listening to the book, I felt like I had to write anything, at least saying thanks to the author and Shin, the protagonist, who had to endure unimaginable horror and is brave enough to share his story with the world.

Before I listened to the audio book, I had a vague idea of North Korea. For example, NKorean dictator, Kim Jung Il is less human, mentally ill and very dangerous. He exploited NKoreans and let them starve to death. As the author mentioned in the book, I was one of many SKoreans who were simply ignorant and indifferent to Nkorea. I felt sorry for them but that was it. Their story was one of the typical stories of poor communist countries. Their miserable and horrible story did not affect me on personal level until I encountered the book. It was a shocking and eye opening experience to me. Its horrifying story scared me to death. I had to pause many times listening to the book because I could not stop crying, or simply bear his horrible experience any more.

After reading the book, I referred it to my family and friends hoping that more SKoreans be aware of the serious problems of NKoreans. I pray for NKoreans whose rights have been completely violated by their greedy, stupid, and less human dictators, Kim's family. I still do not know what exactly I can do to help NKoreans but I will make my efforts to let more SKoreans know the dire reality of NKoreans. I will continue to have interest in unification of two Koreas and support LiNK (Liberty in North Korean).

Again, I sincerely thank to Shin whose courage is indescribable, unimaginable, and inspirational. Thanks to him, I realize that my complaints on life is just luxurious excuses. I envy his inner strength. I pray for his inner peace and freedom. I am also grateful to the author who made Shin's story available to the world in such a powerful way.
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on March 22, 2012
Once you've started this book, it's very difficult to put down.

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.
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on June 19, 2017
Few Americans have a frame of reference that prepares them to understand an existence as a malnourished slave always living under the threat of torture or death, existing without any knowledge of a world beyond a prison camp. This grim expose' of life in a North Korean slave labor camp is shocking in its revelations. The revelations about adjustment difficulties of defectors was deeply unsettling as well. Don't read this book if you want to stay in a cocoon of ignorance about human rights abuses in North Korea.
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on November 15, 2016
Poorly written, but a first-hand account that is important (and shocking) to read. After life in North Korea's prison camps, these victims are really unable to adjust to life in South Korea.
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on July 28, 2017
Being aware of the world around you is important to each of us. Although North Korea is a long ways from us, it is a nation that vows to send bombs upon American soil. In this book you will learn how awful it would be to live in a world that cares next to nothing about others, let along its own citizens. You will learn also the opposite meaning of freedom, people who don't know anything about freedom, has a hard time adjusting to it. Imagine NOT having anyone telling you where to live, work, and go. Supplying you with a 'house' (a one room cement block building with no furniture). The clothes you wear, your hair style, your school and where you will work. I encourage you to read this enlightening book about a rogue country.
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on June 5, 2017
Excellent documentary of this man's life: There are NO other books out there of a man born and raised within a DPRK camp, he is the first known escaped survivor of this type. Born and raised purely as a pawn for the state, in an environment where many are so malnourished as to cause brain damage, so tortured as to be emotional and psychological cripples, this case is a huge breakthrough on many fronts. The book is interspersed with useful historical content explaining the political climate at the time, which is important in understanding how this man could have actually escaped... It was a very brief window of opportunity of which he was unaware, coupled with extreme luck. We are fortunate to have this man alive and willing to tell us his story.
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on June 19, 2017
This novel is an eye opening novel. As a South Korean, I have always known the history and the current issues of North Korea.. until I read this book. They don't tell you these things anywhere else. This novel is coming purely from a man with an experience that cannot be explained by someone who never experienced it. It was fairly a short book, but the emotions it left with me will last forever.
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on August 20, 2016
In Escape from Camp 14, Blaine Harden best seller masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a hero but as a man, by telling us a story what was done to him by the repressive government of North Korea and what he was forced to do to survive. Shin was born in Camp 14, the son to two political prisoners, and was condemned from birth to a life of hunger and misery in forced labor. Prisoners in the camp were not taught to value things like friendship and family. Shin's higher power in the camp were food, the guards and the government teachers, from many of whom he suffered sadistic beatings and torture. He was taught to inform on family and friends- and to feel indifference and no remorse for doing so. This was evident when one of his teachers beat to death a six year old classmate.

When Shin was 13 years old, he told the night guard of his school with another boy of the escape plan by his mother and brother, as informing was something he was taught to do from an early age, and he hoped to be rewarded. However, the school night guard took full credit for discovering the plan, and rather than being rewarded, Shin was arrested and guards tortured him for four days to extract more information, believing him to be part of the plan to escape. After approximately seven months spent in a tiny concrete prison cell, Shin and his father were forced to watch the public executions of Shin's mother and brother.

At age 23, Shin decides to escape with fellow prisoner Park. Park attempted to go through thru an electric fence first, but was fatally electrocuted. Shin managed to escape using Park's body as a shield to ground the current, but still suffered severe burns and permanent scars when his legs slipped onto the lowermost wire as he crawled over Park's body. After escaping, Shin broke into a nearby farmer's barn and found an old military uniform. Wearing the uniform, he was able to pass for a North Korean soldier. He survived by scrounging and stealing food. Eventually, he reached the northern border with China and bribed destitute North Korean border guards with food and cigarettes. After spending some time working as a laborer in different parts of China, Shin was accidentally found by a journalist in a restaurant, who brought him to the South Korean embassy for asylum. Living in the US today, Shin does work as a human rights advocate.
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on June 3, 2017
The story is about the power of one man pursuing the dream of simply being full of food. It sounds ludicrous, but all of the contexts of this awful story come back to a man desiring food, shelter and safety.

The regime in North Korea rivals, if not surpasses, the ugliest and meanest civilizations in history. Modeled on Mao's failed experiment in China, Korea now stands outside the pale of decent human behavior toward its own people.

The ruse of a classless society actualizing good for all citizens is always a failure, North Korea is probably the greatest example of that failure on all fronts especially in cruelty and inhumanity, if not in deaths - (China wins that context).

In this age of tension created by North Korea, this book is a must read. The answers are not found in merely freeing the enslaved masses, but in completely rehabilitating them from a mindless state of existence and being.
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on October 29, 2016
A dramatic book which tells us what is North Korea reality. Not centuries ago, but nowadays, 10-12 years ago! Touching, surprising. It is quite difficult to believe how a dictator can reduce his people to violent, isolated souls, with no hope at all, with no appraisal for theirs and others' lives. Cruelty at its utmost level!
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