Reviewed by Mónica Faggioni
I opted to read Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden after Kim Jong II, the North Korean Dear Leader expired. The scenes in the news of afflicted masses of North Koreans crying at the loss of their Dear Leader shocked me at the time and provoked a curiosity for understanding this behavior. Reading Escape from Camp 14 helped me to understand that, by showing grief, the North Koreans escaped from a lifetime condemnation in Camp 14 or in any other of the camps whose existence is neglected.
In Escape from Camp 14, Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a man born in a prison, from parents breeding in a place where the promise of freedom was nonexistent. He was raised with an absolute lack of affection, of maternal love, as well as with a total absence of moral and ethical values. Malnourished and permanently hungry, the only values he could embrace were those that guaranteed survival, at the extreme end of which stands his denouncing his mother and brother’s intention of escaping the camp. Shin Dong-hyuk became a snitch with the hope of getting a little bit more of the cabbage soup he ate day after day in the camp.
Blaine Harden tells Shin Dong-hyuk’s story in a simple way, committed to his purpose of informing the reader about the hardship and deprivation of liberty that any inhabitant of North Korea and every member of his family is exposed to if the suspicion of unfaithfulness to the regime falls on him.
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