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One Man’s Escape From a North Korean Prison Camp

Shin Dong-hyuk is now experiencing guilt

AARP radio: Escape From Camp 14

Photo by Sabine Meyer

Few political prisoners escape camps, but Shin Dong-hyuk did.

Shin Dong-hyuk was born in North Korea in a brutal prison camp called Camp 14. He grew up in the camp, where he witnessed too many inhumane horrors to list. Shin knew nothing of the outside world, had never heard of Kim Jong, or realized that food was cooked and enjoyed in other parts of the world. He was raised without love, and he regarded his mother as merely competition for food. In fact, he reported his mother to guards for talking of plans to escape. In return, the guards made Shin watch as they shot her, and then tortured him for four days.

He never considered escaping until he heard stories that food was plentiful and cooked in the outside world. Eventually, he did escape, at least physically; emotionally he is dealing with extreme guilt and post-traumatic stress syndrome for the first time in his life.  Journalist Blaine Harden tells the unbelievable story of the life of Shin in his book Escape from Camp 14.


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