Author: Blaine Harden
This is about the harrowing tale of the life of Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only person known to have been born and to escape from North Korea’s toughest and most brutal gulag or prison camp, Camp 14. For the first 23 years of his life, Shin only ate corn porridge, pickled cabbage, and cabbage soup. When he was six years old, his teacher discovered five kernels of corn in his classmate’s pocket. The girl was beaten to death. Shin felt no pity. To combat hunger, Shin tried different unimaginable ways. He even searched cow dungs for undigested kernels of corn. His happiest childhood memories were when his belly was full after eating roasted rats.
Escape from Camp 14 was written mainly to raise people’s awareness regarding the lives of our brothers and sisters who are confined in prison camps in North Korea. It very well served its purpose. I know that there are prison camps in North Korea but I was very much surprise of the severity the prisoners are experiencing.
I would not say that I enjoyed the story but I could say that it is worth the read. Every time I turned a page, every moment I read a word, my heart was burdened by this inconceivable reality. It seems like the story was directly taken from George Orwell’s 1984. It is a real life dystopia. It is a nightmare turned into reality.
“I am evolving from being an animal,’ he said. ‘But it is going very, very slowly. Sometime I try to cry and laugh like other people, just to see if it feels like anything. Yet tears don’t come. Laughter doesn’t come” -Blaine Harden, Escape from Camp 14