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Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Hardcover – Apr 3 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (April 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023325
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 10 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk, a 26 year old man who was born inside Camp 14. This is a camp that holds political prisoners and as it is a `no exit' camp; all of the sentences are life. Those in the camps have no rights and in many respects have already had a death sentence passed on them, but the timing is less fixed.

Some of the prisoners are allowed `award marriages', all congress of a sexual nature is banned; the penalty for infraction is death. The penalty for most infractions is death actually, or torture, forced starvation, severe beatings and miserable work. Everyone has to work, what ever their physical health and if you fail to meet your work quota then you have your meagre rations cut. Public executions are mandatory attendance and Shins earliest memory is having been at one. He is the product of an `award marriage', and as such him and his brother will be born, live and die in the camp. They too will have to atone for the sins of the parents.

He is taught to trust no one, to snitch on everyone and to be loyal only to the guards. The camps are the only places where photos of `The Dear Leader' are not compulsorily on display at all times - this is to re enforce that they are outside society. Hence their knowledge of the country, politics and even food is parlous to non existent. They are kept separate from the children of prisoners who have been on the outside. In short it is a living hell and then something happens that makes it even worse and is the catalyst for change in Shins pitiful life.

This story has been told by Blaine Harden (Washington Post reporter) after numerous interviews with Shin. He has done a magnificent job or relaying the true story with amazing details and references for cross corroboration where ever possible.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 17 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone interested in the human condition on both a personal and an academic level, I find stories of unusual upbringings to be fascinating. This is a story of an unusually horrible upbringing and the light it sheds on both humanity and humans in North Korea is powerfully awful.

Shin Dong-Hyuk was born and raised in a North Korean prison camp. The "product" of a man and woman from traiterous families (NK punishes treason through three generations!!), he grew up in an environment bereft of love, compassion, and hope. Like watching a train wreck on TV, it's a squeemish but fascinating look at how a human can grow up when they are faced with constant starvation, indifference, paranoia, and the threat of very real and serious violence. In many ways, this book reminded me of the Mountain People, an anthropologist's account of a group of starving hunter-gatherers who seemed to have lost all their morals. Life at Camp 14 was just like that. The prisoners and guards (in general) seemed to have lost all their morals.

There are bright spots of hope and kindness that I won't divulge to avoid ruining the story, but generally this is a dark book about bleak topics. It's also a fascinating look into Shin Dong-Hyuk's mind as the report (Harden) tries to coax the truth out of a sometimes uncooperative subject. Not surprisingly, Shin's PTSD and learned way of life make it very difficult for him to open up and share the brutal details of his life. Not just because he had bad things done to him, but because he believes he did some very bad things himself. Which is why this book is so compelling. Not because it shows how brutal life in North Korea is (a fact that should stir more international action than it currently does).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By juztbecause on June 1 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would freely recommend this book to everyone.

After reading this book I have come to the following conclusions:
1. I have now or never had anything to really complain about compared to this gentleman.
2. The North Korean regime must be must be removed.

How much longer can we sit on our hands an let this continue ?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 2 2012
Format: Hardcover
Story Description:

The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.

North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Dong-hyuk did.

In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. 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 own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

Review:

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.
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