Putting books on the back burner.
I watched the interview on 60 Minutes and I was looking forward at reading Shin's memoir. It was interesting to listen to about his life in the labor camp in North Korea, but there is something missing. There is not enough of his story in "Escape from Camp 14." Blaine Harden tells Shin's life as a magazine article that you would find at a doctor's office.
Shin's story is not well told. Shin wrote a book about his life in Korean. I would much rather listened to his version of his life because it would had been more compelling than a journalist telling his story in the third person.
Plus, Harden narrating of his own book is just bad. He has no sense of pace. It is as if he is glancing over the newspaper and reading the headlines.
For a long time, I have thought of myself as someone who is interested in international human rights, but I have really never given much thought to the situation in North Korea. This book really changed my ideas on the topic. Now that I have finished this slim volume, I find it difficult to understand how the world has allowed the suffering of the North Korean people to continue for so long. From the story of this one escapee, it has become clear to me that the entire country is basically one huge concentration camp. I guess the threat of nuclear weapons explains why the western democracies have allowed this situation to fester for so long, but even so it seems something ought to be done.
This audio book was read by the author. The performance was fairly well done and I would recommend this version of the book.
Mike is a national communications professional whose firm, Mike Collins Public Relations, has offices in Tampa and Washington, DC
Blaine Harden is a superb journalist whose account is compelling; his narration proves that authors and publishers should hire professional voice talent. His metronome-like pedantic delivery (and the frequent obvious edits) made me wish I'd bought the text instead of the audio version.
It's a pity, because this story needs to be told. It is the account of the only person known to have escaped from a North Korean labor camp (where 50,000 are believed to be imprisoned) to the United States. The subject of his story was actually "bred" to be a prisoner, since the North Korean "justice" system punishes guilt by association: in other words, the wrongdoer, his parents and his children alike are forced to "wash away" the guilt of the accused.
The regime forces this young man's parents into a marriage, then pits mother against child for food. When the mother assists a brother in an escape, all four family members are subjected to torture (including, in this case, hanging a 10-year-old boy over hot coals and lowering him into the heat until he passed out from the pain and smell of his burning skin). He and his father are forced to watch as the mother and his brother are hanged and shot.
His escape is harrowing -- but Harden's listless delivery makes the story difficult to follow.
I urge everyone to read "Escape from Camp 14" -- just don't buy the audio version read by the author.
No doubt, it was the central character himself : a deeply disturbing example of North Korean repression.
Never. I will continue to read his work in the newspaper, and will read his books. But he should never, ever, attempt to narrate again. Mistake.
The story itself is powerful and should be read by all freedom-loving people everywhere.
You should not find it possible to read this book and then go on about your business of thinking of North Korea as only a country unfortunately ruled by mad monsters. One feels bound to do something to help. The single major -- but very critical -- problem is the amateurish reading performance by the author, marked by literally hundreds of obvious and thus ill-fitting and distracting edits and changes of intonation, reading speed and timbre. I imagine there had to be a good reason for this, but I can't imagine what that reason was. Mr. Harden, you're a pro in the writing, but get a pro to do the reading next time.
Close up look at the twisted thinking of the North Korean leadership and how it treats those who disagree with government policy. Hard to believe this can continue to go on in the 21st century.
The story is enjoyable. There were sound issues in a few sections but it was nothing big and the story was compelling enough that it didn't matter.
I loved the part of the book where he says that people in concentration camps have been more likely to survive when they were in pairs and then he references people who knew Anne Frank. Those people say that Anne Frank never lost her will to live because of sickness, starvation or the abuse but rather after her sister died. Shin on the other hand never knew the kind of bond Anne Frank had with her sister until he met Park who was improsined when he returned to North Korea. When he formed that bond, this was when he got the will to move forward and try to escape the camp. Even in the most horrifying circumstances, it isn't ruthlessnes that will get you out alive but a simple bond. Some love and friendship that many of us take for granted.
This book is so informative and moving. Please read it!
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
My husband and I listened to this book together and a road trip. He, a retired soldier, me, a retired CFO. We are parents of five, grandparents of seven. Middle class, penny pinchers, not extravagant. Family oriented, Christians. Our oldest son is a soldier. He's been stationed in South Korea twice. He's been to Iraq and Afghanistan. Our youngest son was also a soldier, deployed to Iraq. We adopted our youngest daughter from a Romanian orphanage. My point? Our family, compared to many, has experienced varied lifestyles, seen suffering in other countries and cultures, been exposed to wars, loved, accepted and even adopted one who was "thrown away". BUT . . . the story in Escape from Camp 14 is different than any our family has heard, seen or experienced. In Iraq and Afghanistan, countries ravaged by terrorism and war, mothers still cling to hope and grasp their children in their arms. Families still cling together until the moment of death. In Romania, even during and before the revolution, although many mothers abandoned their children to orphanages, it was almost always due to not having the resources to care for them at home. The family structure was still strong, Christianity although underground, flourished. Listening to Escape from Camp 14 was absolutely chilling. If anyone has a doubt about what pure evil is, they need to listen. It is little wonder that Shin lied repeatedly to Blaine Harden when telling his story. My heart rose and fell as I listened, I hoped, then immediately felt sad as I continued to listen as Shin again failed in his new surroundings. A child who had never had any expectations shown to him, no nurturing, no warmth . . . but instead is taught from birth to manipulate. It is frightening. You have to listen to the ENTIRE story. The end is absolutely WORTH THE WAIT. Thank you, Blaine Harden for one of the most harrowing, most redeeming, stories I have ever heard.
This was a heart wrenching story that depicts the depravity of human nature. So hard to believe that the world can stand by and witness the brutality of the Kim regime
An amazing escape. Survival is ongoing for the protagonist. He has so much to overcome after escaping from the camp.
Well written. Author narrates, setting the tone for listeners.