Escape From Camp 14: Story of a Man Born in a North Korean Prison Camp

#Literature

Mon, Mar 19th, 2012 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Guardian has this extract from Escape From Camp 14, a book about Shin In Geun, a man that was born in a North Korean prison camp, and whose only crime was to be the son of the wrong parents.

The article is actually quite disturbing, not just for the daily routine of torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but because Shin's normalisation was to be in an environment where no one could be trusted or loved. And this place, to Shin, was home. He had known or seen nothing else his entire life.

The South Korean government estimates there are about 154,000 prisoners in North Korea's labour camps, while the US state department puts the number as high as 200,000. The biggest is 31 miles long and 25 miles wide, an area larger than the city of Los Angeles. Numbers 15 and 18 have re-education zones where detainees receive remedial instruction in the teachings of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, and are sometimes released. The remaining camps are "complete control districts" where "irredeemables" are worked to death.

Shin's camp, number 14, is a complete control district. Established around 1959 near Kaechon County in South Pyongan Province, it holds an estimated 15,000 prisoners. About 30 miles long and 15 miles wide, it has farms, mines and factories threaded through steep mountain valleys.

Shin and his mother lived in the best prisoner accommodation the camp had to offer. They had their own room, where they slept on a concrete floor, and they shared a kitchen with four other families. Electricity ran for two hours a day. There were no beds, chairs or tables. No running water.

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