With a New Foreword
The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped.
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.
In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. 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 mother and brother.
The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.
Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.
With a protagonist born into a life of backbreaking labor, cutthroat rivalries, and a nearly complete absence of human affection, Harden's book reads like a dystopian thriller. But this isn't fiction it's the biography of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known person born into one of North Korea's secretive prison labor camps who has managed to escape and now lives in the U.S. Harden structures Shin's horrific experience which includes witnessing the execution of his brother and sister after their escape plan is discovered around an examination of the role that political imprisonment and forced labor play in North Korea and the country's fraught relationship with its economically prosperous neighbors South Korea and China While Shin eventually succeeds in escaping North Korea's brutal dictatorship, adjusting to his new life proves to be extraordinarily difficult, and he wrestles with his complicity in the atrocities of his past he informed on his mother and other brother, which led to their execution. "I was more faithful to the guards than to my family. We were each other's spies," he confesses. Harden wisely avoids depicting the West as a panacea for Shin's trauma, instead leaving the reader to wonder whether Shin will ever be able to reconcile his past with the present. Harden notes both the difficulty of obtaining information about daily existence in North Korea and of fact-checking such information (including Shin's own version of events), and the book's brevity may leave readers wanting more from this brisk, brutal, sorrowful read.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Escape from camp14
This was a very educational, thought-provoking, and revealing look into a situation that I was basically unaware of. How these camps can even exist is maddening, to say the least, but the fact that somebody has escaped, and lived to tell about it, in such dramatic fashion, should help with their eventual abolition. I would recommend this book to anyone, and hopefully it will be a call to action for those that can enact positive change. Not only an end to the brutal camps throughout Korea but an end to the savage, in humane Kim dynasty.
This book goes in depth to things almost unimaginable to a normal person. It triggers so many emotions.we need to put a stop to all the monstrosities happening inside this country. It is filled with anger, sadness, and total shock.
Fascinating and horrifying
It's frightening that this could occur in these so called civilized times. It's time for the world to sit up and take notice of the crimes against humanity happening to north Koreans- and to finally help put a stop to it.
Thank you to this young man for having the courage to share his story.