The chilling story of a prisoner in North Korea.
Born in Labor Camp 14, the child of political prisoners, Shin Dong-hyuk spent 23 years imprisoned, initially with his mother and other families in cramped quarters with no running water, no furniture and little soap. For protein, there were insects and rats. For a while, there was school, one without books or real education. Nothing was taught about the outside world, other than that it was peopled by enemies. At age 10 Shin began mining coal for the love of the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. As an adolescent he was tortured viciously in an underground cell, and then taken to witness the execution of his mother and brother. He was not affected by the spectacle; he did not grieve. They had spoken of escape, and Shin had reported them. After learning from older prisoners about other lands and the foods to be had there, he planned his own escape. Through a series of improbable events, he made it to China, South Korea and then America. His spiritual journey—still in progress—has not been easy. His is one man’s remarkable story of deliverance from a hidden land where fact-checking is virtually impossible. Economist contributor Harden (A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia, 1996, etc.), nevertheless, has done his research, and Shin’s adventure largely conforms to those of the few others who have escaped captivity. The text was completed before the Dear Leader’s death. Camp 14 has been in operation for half a century, and we can only suppose that the new, baby-faced Supreme Leader will continue the legacy of the dynasty.
A terrifying story of brutal captivity and unremitting misery and the difficult adjustment to subsequent life in a very different place.