3 min read ⌚
One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
“Escape from Camp 14” is the story of Shin who, until now, remains the only person who was born in a labor camp in North Korea, and has escaped.
About Blaine Harden
Blaine Harden is a foreign correspondent and an author.
“Escape from Camp 14 PDF Summary”
We have all heard of North Korea and its brutal dictatorship.
It has never developed hydroelectric capabilities, has no oil and uses excrement and ashes as fertilizers. It strives to become a nuclear power and is close to becoming one.
The public has no insight into what happens in North Korea. All stories the public knows are either those fed by the North Korean news, which is questionable, or the stories told by defectors.
For example, North Korea denies the existence of its prison camps. However, the fenced zones are visible on Google Earth, and defectors witness their existence.
These camps house around 200 000 people.
One of these people was shin, who was born in the early 80s in Camp 14, which is one of the most brutal prisons for dissidents, as well as their families.
He reckons that his home had no water, no privacy, no mattress or any other kind of furniture. He did not have anything to eat as well.
The only light he had, was the light bulb in the kitchen that several families shared, which was on a few hours after sunset and an hour after dawn.
Camp 14 discouraged sexual encounters, and when guards raped women, they usually killed the victims. If a woman gave birth with no permission, she was executed. And so was the child.
When he was 10, Shin witnessed his mother being raped.
His mother got married to his father as a reward for his hard work. That is how marriages got earned – they were a privilege for the hard workers.
His father was not home most of the time, and Shin lived with his older brother and mother, who beat him mercilessly.
Shin has no memories of his younger age which are not filled with beatings, betrayal, physical deprivation, and starvation.
During that time he learned to mistrust everyone, even his family
Key Lessons from “Escape from Camp 14”
- Lies and Betrayal
- The Idea of Escape
Lies and Betrayal
During his life in Camp 14, Shin did not have any time to think of the hard conditions since the work was overconsuming.
That was until he met Park Yong Chul, an older man who had traveled overseas, and on whom he was supposed to snitch.
However, as he hears the stories of life outside of North Korea, where you can do and eat whatever you want and go wherever you want, he decided not to tell on him and started believing that there is hope to escape from Camp 14.
The Idea of Escape
The idea to escape was Shin’s, but Park also joined.
They both tried to escape, but Park was killed by the voltage of the electric fence.
Shin escaped, and he reached China with a bribe.
Once he was free, he felt the shadow of the past over him. He had nightmares and was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Then, his friends made him write his memoir.
Until now, Shin is the only person who was born in a labor camp in North Korea and has escaped.
In 2011 he returned to South Korea.
Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.