Imagine that being the first thing you really understand in life. Not love, not any sense of family, but don’t try to get away. “Escape From Camp 14” by Blaine Harden does a very good job in conveying that feeling. Harden documents the life of Shin Dong-hyuk and his eventual escape from the North Korean political prison designated as Camp 14.
I feel that this is really what book like “The Hunger Games” and movies like “Battle Royal” want to portray, but put to much dazzle into the grit that is life for some people. Shin very much lives day to day attempting to stay alive, find enough food, and cover himself before caring about others. He remembers watching fellow students beat to death, his mother being hung after turning her in for a planned escape, and forgetting about his escape partner after he died on the electric.
This memoir really follows how this boy went from an animal in a cage to attempting to forge relationships in the western world. You see his discovery of constant meals, trying to have a paying job, and discovery of religion. He documents Shin’s realization that he was supposed to have feelings for the people he was around, for the member of his family that he turned in or left behind.
Overall, “Escape from Camp 14” is a very touching and thought provoking book. It normally would not take me as long as it did to read such a book, but often I found myself putting it down and thinking about what I had just read and really internalizing it. Pick it up if you are interested in the social state of North Korea, or even if you are just curious about how these stories of fantasy really happen in real life.