Escape From Camp 14
There are books that I read that make me dream. Some are so well written and seem to sweep me off my feet to bring me into another world. Other books pull me right back to earth and open my eyes to the reality of things. Though I love to dream, the eye-openers are always the books that stick with me.
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden is nothing short of an eye-opener. Its writing isn’t poetic, and the story telling isn’t beautiful but it’s for the story itself and the immense amount of information given that it has engraved itself into my mind.
In North Korea, there are about 200 000 prisoners kept in camps. Many of these prisoners aren’t the criminals but their children and grandchildren, since the North Korean government feels that a three generation punishment is what is takes to eliminate the “bad seed” of these wrong-doers. These people are forced to live in horrible conditions and work in dangerous environments.
In this book we learn about the horrific details of Shin’s life. He is a prisoner in Camp 14 and has suffered ridiculous torment and unbearable conditions as well as seen his mother and brother hung for planning their escape. Shin however, does escape.
Though Shin tries to adapt to the world outside of North Korea, we immediately see that he has a hard time doing so. When all you know is a life with no choices, no freedom, no rights, it’s hard to even fathom the idea of having a normal life. We see signs of the repercussions of living in these camps throughout the story. The choices Shin makes and the way he describes certain situations is a bit odd. He sees life so differently from the average person.
This book is a start to open our eyes to what is really going on in the world. It opens our eyes to things we (or at least I) didn’t have the slightest clue were happening. It’s hard to believe that we have evolved to much, but still accept that there are places like those described in this book. Grab this book when you get the chance. It will change your perspective, I guarantee it.
“I am evolving from being an animal,’ he said. ‘But it is going very, very slowly. Sometime I try to cry and laugh like other people, just to see if it feels like anything. Yet tears don’t come. Laughter doesn’t come. – Shin Dong-hyuk”