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.
Blaine Harden is a contributor to the Economist and has formerly served as the Washington Post’s bureau chief in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. He is the author of Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent and A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
©2012 Blaine Harden (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“If you have a soul, you will be changed forever by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14…Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive. By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil.” (Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times best-selling author of Lost in Shangri-La)
“This is a story unlike any other…More so than any other book on North Korea, including my own, Escape from Camp 14 exposes the cruelty that is the underpinning of Kim Jong Il’s regime. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from the Washington Post, tells this story masterfully…The integrity of this book shines through on every page.” (Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea)
“With a protagonist born into a life of backbreaking labor, cutthroat rivalries, and a nearly complete absence of human affection, Harden’s book reads like a dystopian thriller. But this isn’t fiction - it’s the biography of Shin Dong-hyuk.” (Publishers Weekly)
Blaine Harden broaches an uncomfortable subject with his rebelling of one man's escape and recovery from a slave labor camp. The tale contained in this book will reach into your soul and make you question what you think you know about North Korea; the topics of torture, slavery, and the depravation of a people are unfathomable to most people in the West. Sadly these are the norms in North Korea. In this performance of his own work, Blaine Harden is able to capture the essence of injustice and deliver it straight to your ears.
This is absolutely worth listening to if you're at all curious or concerned about the on-going human rights issue in North Korea, It takes the listener through some of the worst places you could be in North Korea, following a man's journey into the civilized world and his struggle to adapt to a normal life while integrating into society.
Many don't take the culture shock into consideration when they think of refugees from North Korea, but Blaine Harden goes out of his way to explain the integration process when discussing the topic of North Koreans gaining citizenship in South Korea, and even discusses some of the discrimination and apathy that refugees are the victim of in today's world.
It's important to note that some of Shin's story needs to be taken with a grain of salt, since he has revised it a few times, including most recently in 2015. However on the other hand I believe most of it can be excused when you take into account the environment in which he grew up, with Camp 14 being a terrible place regardless of what his story is. Without going into any detail, I encourage listeners to look up some of the recent articles about him after listening since it looks like he still has some on-going drama with North Korea.
Surfer Youth Leader
This was a hard book to get through yet I found myself turning the next page as my interest continued to grow. Shin's story of his early childhood in Camp 14 is a depressing and painful read. My heart broke as I read how his classmates would spy on one another, beat each other and more as the guards of this camp were even more cruel. It is an interesting read, one that I think everyone should read, especially those of us in America to give us an eye-opening experience of what goes on in a different part of the world. However, I don't think many will simply because we have the mindset that restricts us to our own borders. It's ironic too as Shin states his thoughts on South Korea towards the end of the book in that "their way of living does not allow them to think about things beyond their borders. There is nothing in it for them."
Let it be not true for us.
This is the first book I have listened to with Audible. What a great first impression!
The story obviously starts out with the most dire and tragic circumstances, but what a triumphant ending!
I would absolutely recommend!
This book was amazing. It makes one thing about the nature of morality, the politics of North Korea, and human resilience. North Korea might not be immediately a threat to us, but they are a threat to humanity. It is the obligation of all of us to be informed and call for action against the flagrant human rights violations. In situations like these, it is important to remember that those who remain silent in the face of evil are advocates for the perpetrators.
it makes you realize how much we have to appreciate in the U.S. I recommend anyone wanting to learn about this emotional story of a young man's life escape to freedom to read or listen to this book.
Perhaps horrifying might describe it better--what is going on in North Korea. I knew it was pretty bad there, but not on this scale.
This young man's story needs to get out. And this book was well written; it certainly kept my attention.
The performance was good.
This is a great book but the editing in the audio is just plain annoying. Once every few pages there is actually a different narrator that fills in edits in the middle of a sentence.
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