It took me 3 days to read “Escape from Camp 14” by Blaine Harden. It’s the story of Shin Dong-Huyk, who is the only documented person (as I am currently aware) to have been born in a North Korean internment camp and escaped. As you can imagine the parts that told about life in the camp are not cheerful reading. They are gruesome and plainly brutal but this is the daily reality for thousands of people in North Korea.
I don’t know why I chose this as my first book in the challenge but I am glad I did. Yes, North Korea is in the news and the ‘Kims’ are portrayed as crazy but quirky leaders in media like South Park and The Interview. I don’t think in the western world we are as aware as we should be about the issues happening in North Korea. I’m not saying I have read one book and I am an expert but it has definitely opened my eyes.
After reading this book I did a bit a extra homework and found something that disappointed me; in 2015 Shin Dong-Huyk recanted parts of his story to Harden. He changed some dates of events, his age when things happened, the fact that he had previously escaped from a different camp twice so wasn’t as unaware of things outside the camps as the book lets on. I don’t think had malicious intent, I think it was a traumatised and confused man trying to tell this story the best he could however I could be wrong. I say if you read this book, don’t let that cloud your experience or judgement of the subject but be aware that there are apparently edits and revisions of the book planned so the book you read might not be the book I read.
Peace K x