Skip to comments.The Ghastly Hellhole of Camp 14
Posted on 05/10/2012 4:49:39 AM PDT by Kaslin
SHIN DONG-HYUK grew up in North Korea's Camp 14, one of the monstrous slave-labor prison complexes in which the world's most tyrannical regime has crushed hundreds of thousands of its citizens, working them to death in conditions of excruciating brutality and degradation. Though the North Korean concentration camps have lasted far longer than their Soviet or Nazi counterparts did, Shin is the first person born and raised in one of them to have successfully escaped abroad. His story is told in journalist Blaine Harden's Escape from Camp 14, a heart-crushing reminder that man's inhumanity to man has no limit.
It is a book filled with harrowing passages. At the age of six, Shin was forced to watch as one of his classmates -- a short, slight, pretty girl -- was beaten to death by their teacher when he discovered five kernels of corn in her pocket. When Shin accidentally dropped a sewing machine while working at the camp's garment factory, half of his middle finger was chopped off as punishment. Time and again he sees other inmates maimed or killed when they are forced to work under appallingly dangerous conditions. And time and again he joins in collective punishment, unhesitatingly obeying when ordered to slap and beat a classmate or some other prisoner singled out for abuse and discipline.
When Shin was 14, he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother for attempting to escape. His dominant emotion as he watched them die was not sorrow, but anger: He was furious at what they had caused him to be put through. Because of their infraction, he had been savagely tortured, suspended in mid-air over a charcoal fire as interrogators demanded information about where his mother and brother were planning to flee after their escape.
"Shin, crazed with pain, smelling his burning flesh, twisted away from the heat," Harden writes. "One of the guards grabbed a gaff hook from the wall and pierced the boy in the lower abdomen, holding him over the fire until he lost consciousness."
North Korea's slave-labor gulag would be horrific even if its inmates were guilty of actual crimes. But most prisoners are guilty of nothing except being related to the wrong family.
Under a demented doctrine laid down by Kim Il Sung, the communist tyrant who founded North Korea, "enemies of class must be eliminated through three generations." The regime therefore fills these unspeakable camps not only with "enemies" who dared to practice Christianity or failed to keep a picture of Kim properly dusted, but with their entire families, often including grandparents and grandchildren. Shin's father ended up in Camp 14 because two of his brothers had fled south during the Korean War. He and Shin's mother were assigned to each other by camp guards years later as prizes in a "reward" marriage. They were allowed to sleep together just five nights a year. Shin was thus conceived -- and spent the first 23 years of his life -- behind the electrified barbed wire of Kim's ghastly hellhole.
Harden's book is gripping and enlightening. Yet not even the most gifted writer can fully convey what it means to grow up in a Camp 14 -- a realm in which "love and mercy and family were words without meaning," in which betrayal was routine and compassion unknown. How does a human being overcome such damage? Grisly physical scars mark Shin's body, Harden writes, but there are severe psychological scars too. He struggles to show affection and to trust other people; to be capable of sympathy and sadness.
How could it be otherwise? After a lifetime of dehumanization and institutionalized cruelty, Shin can hardly be blamed if he wrestles with emotional paralysis.
But what excuse do we have? We who know what freedom and civilization mean, who live with law and justice and decency, who intone "Never Again" after accounts of genocide and holocaust -- how do we justify our emotional paralysis?
There is no cruelty so depraved that people cannot be induced to do it, or to look the other way while it is being done. Escape from Camp 14 reconfirms what we have known for years: North Korea's rulers brutalize their people with unparalleled and bloody barbarity. Why do we find it so easy to look the other way?
What can we individuals with a conscience do, except pray for the utter destruction of those who are responsible for such atrocities?
These horrors, and parallel ones that took place during the German conducted holocaust of WWII, and others under various tyrants around the world, result when the governing powers’ view of humanity collapses to that of beasts.
But hey, lets keep sending them aid and food. That will surely get to the opressed people. /sarcasm
Forward this on to Americas Air Head, “ Lesley Stahl “
This is torture blondie, drinking ensure at camp gitmo is a vacation.
How would you advise world leaders to address the N.Korean situation?
How utterly sad. Few glimpses have been seen of what ‘life’ is like in the North. I pray for those people in hopes that the regime will inevitably implode on itself and someday the people will know what peace and freedom is like.
Conquer the doggone place....
Where there is no God there are no rules- if man is the god he makes the rules
North Korea is a trash heap that survives only because it isa protected by China. If the Peoples Republic could be convinced to step back, we could topple the Chia regime overnight, free the North Koreans from their slavery, reunite North and South, and restore sanity to that backward land.
But any such move on our part would be construed as imperialism and China would huff and puff and we’d be back in 1950 all over again. Of course, China won’t do squat to pressure humanitarian reforms in North Korea themselves. Considering their own record on human rights, that isn’t particularly surprising.
So why aren’t international bodies like the UN and Amnesty raising hell about these atrocities? That’s about the only option left and all we hear are crickets.
And what do we hear from Amnesty International concerning this?
As unlikely as it is, the only solution for the tyranny of NoKo is for the people to rise up and overthrow the regime.
Since few of them have any direct knowledge that a better life is possible, I really don’t think I will happen any time soon.
NoKo stands as a good example of why a population needs to be armed and willing to use those weapons when a regime becomes oppressive.
I could just see Pelosi and Obama reading this saying “Now THAT is a country!”
But, but, Madeline said he was a nice man! (Freakin’ fellow travelers)
You forgot to include Harry Reid
responding to the question in the article
we don’t “look the other way”. we are helpless to do anything.
It is going on in China too. And China returns escapees to North Korea, which is depraved. Someone who can needs to assist these people
So basically, China is enabling North Korea and China must be pressured to do something. China is our enemy, never should we forget that for one moment.
MacArthur would have done the job had Truman allowed him to.
Don’t forget the Zucker video:
1: Announce publicly that “Comsat XXXX” is experiencing orbital stability problems after being dtruck by debris generated from China’s anti-sat weapons test a few years back.
2: plot the trajectory for somewhere in the Atlantic ocean near Antarctica.
3: Put stealth missle tech to use.
4: Blow up every NK military/leadership compound.
5: Apologize to the world because our calculations were slightly off.
6: Remind the world that had China not created a minefield in space against the will of the rest of spacegoing countries, this tragedy could have been avoided.
7: Get on TV and look real sorry.
This makes 1984 sound utopian.
For North Korea
“O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honours and invoke thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of. Pray for them, who are so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to the assistance in this great need, that they may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all their necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly freedom and that we may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee.
Amnesty International is refused a presence in North Korea. But they do help point out the criminal level of abuse that happens there.
I think the problem you see is a refusal of the main-stream media to cover their reports, or the reports of others.
I read the North Koreans attached a sharpened steel cord to the body of the returned escapee by poking it under their collar bone, similarly depraved behavior.
Take out the ‘leaders’??
Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.
After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.
Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done round here.
The degree to which we ignore this condition is indicative of the power of a Marxist mass media which does not wish to publicize the consequences of the philosophy with which they are directly associated. "It will be different when I am king."
As things currently stand, the only way that the madness in NK could end is if the Chi-coms decided to end it. But they enjoy having this buffer between them and democratic SK and they enjoy having so many American troops tied down in SK to deal with the threat posed by the madmen in Pyongyang. The NK people are effectively human shields for the greater ambitions of the Chi-com leadership.
The Americans can’t unilaterally invade NK without the full support of SK, as it is SK which would take the brunt of any NK retaliation. The damage in SK could be severe, even if a war was short in duration, given the close proximity of Seoul to the NK border and the possibility that at least one NK nuke could be delivered before the regime was crushed. NK should have been taken down in the early 90s, after the collapse of Russia and before they got nukes. Too late now.
Is it just me or do Asians seem to have a special penchant for brutality?
A good friend who escaped when Saigon fell, told me this is so because they have no loyalty or empathy for anyone not in their family.
Have read, the reason the Chinese let NK gov continue is that they do not want the flood of NK refuges. Maybe that is only a partial reason.
Don’t these GD lefties just make ya want to puke?
Actually, the problem I have with AA is their total lack of perspective.
Several years ago I researched AA’s annual report and found about 8 pages on North Korea and about 150 on the use of tasers in American prisons. Looking at such things, its obvious what their focus is.
Yes. I picked up this book last week. It’s short and difficult to put down. It is horrifying in every aspect, but at least for me, it was very difficult to comprehend that this is a true story because it is so very outrageous and so far beyond our social norms that North Korea might as well be an alien planet. Part of this, I suspect, is the writer’s very matter of fact style (he used to be a reporter, and it shows).
For instance, not only was the boy unloved by his mother—ok, fine—but it goes even beyond this. His mother viewed him as a competitor for food and beat him when he ate their food. When he overheard his mother and brother contemplating escape, he turned them in to the authorities, which—though required by the camp rules—earned him a trip to an underground prison where he was nearly tortured to death.
I don’t usually go out and buy books at retail, but this fellow has had a difficult time in normal society since his escape, and the author has agreed, as a condition of writing the book, to split half the profits with the protagonist. Seemed like a worthy cause to me.
1. Complete and total quarantine, enforced by naval patrols and air power. Nothing goes in or out. Financial as well.
2. Air drop military equipment (rations, small arms, ammo, RPGs, etc.) throughout the countryside so those who want to fight, can.
3. Drop leaflets telling the people to rise up and fight - they will be supported with #2 above.
If Obozo can assist with the “Arab Spring” then the next president can assist with the liberation of NK.
This was Clintons Secretary of State, enjoying herself openly, publicly, with a monster
Did she know he was a monster?
This was published in 1998
2d edition published this april
Again the world sits around giving assent by its silence.
The barbarians on the other end of The Won's Blackberry plan to do the same to us.
Remember, they have previously expressed a willingness to send 1-in-8 of us to the ovens - and not a pastry chefs.
“Conquer the doggone place....”
Well, yeah, that would solve the problem. Wait! China and Russia would jump to its defense. Would that war be called WW3?
“So why arent international bodies like the UN and Amnesty raising hell about these atrocities?”
Because the UN is controlled by China and Russia.
Let their neighbors deal with the problem. We could air drop radios, food, and small guns and stop feeding the govt. I wouldn’t do much more than that.
I am very much in favor of a free North Korea, but it’s not as simple as that. I think liberating NK would be no problem for our military. Then what? Is the US or UN going to be committed to a Marshall Plan that will rebuild and retrain North Koreans to be competitive in the world economy?
NK has a GDP behind interior African countries. The GDP per person—something we really don’t know because the country is so closed—is estimated to be $1,800 (US is $48,000)—behind countries like Senegal, Ghana, and East Timor.
We don’t know how many people are imprisoned in the camps in Korea, but they estimate it’s a couple hundred thousand. Of those, only the fortunate ones are even schooled long enough to learn read and write.
The fellow in this book is an exceptional person who escaped from these camps, and he has had tremendous difficulties in finding and holding a job and supporting himself. What do you do with a whole nation of these people?
So why arent international bodies like the UN and Amnesty raising hell about these atrocities?
Because the UN is controlled by China and Russia.
Your far too kind....IMHO these atrocities are “professional courtesy” .....and are tolerated by leftists in general who would, if they could, universally apply them to all central government resistance.
We have a Korean woman who is studying English staying with us right now. I really didn’t realize how geographically isolated Korea was, and how vulnerable it makes Koreans feel. They first met westerners only about 100 years ago, because they had been blocked by the Chinese on land and at sea. Then, the Japanese became colonial powers over China and Korea and came in with the first modern technology, about in the 1930s. Briefly, after Japan’s defeat, Korea was free, and then it’s been war ever since. And yet it has become a developed country. Think of all the countries that have been independent only since the mid-20th Century. How many of them have done what Korea has done?
I used to think it was not fair of the South Koreans to sit there in prosperity and not do more to liberate the North. Now I see better how fragile their position is. They have an amazing country in a terrible location. They may not be able to do much to liberate North Korea until the next time China falls apart. And then they will have a job much worse than knitting together East and West Germany.