Sunday, April 21, 2013

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Book Description from
March 26, 2013
The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.
In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.
The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.
Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.

My Thoughts

Where do I begin? You MUST READ this book! No ifs, ands, or buts because why in the world are we not talking about this situation going on in North Korea? Why are we not teaching about this? Why are we not doing something about it?

I think about what I know about North Korea and realize it is very little. I know the leader scares me a bit, but I had no idea how bad it really is. As an educator and parent why do we not raise the awareness? We teach about the Holocaust and other terrible moments in history, but why not teach about this? This is our modern Holocaust. We always talk about making history and our teaching relevant to our kids. What will they say when they realize they lived through such a terrible moment in history and had no idea?

I am beyond blown away by what was documented in this story and journey of Shin. What I like about the book is that it is real. There is not a fairy tale ending(although I wish there was for his sake). His adjustment to the real world is never going to stop. I cannot believe that a human being survived what he did.

There are no words to put down in this review to explain what you will read about Shin and the life he lived. You have to read it for yourself. I feel shocked that I know so little of these events. I had to stop reading this book at times. Not because it was bad, but because I just could not endure anymore events that Shin went through. I needed a breather from the abuse. I could not stay away for long because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Read this book. If nothing more than to bring awareness to things happening in this world right now that we are clueless about. I guarantee that once you read this book, you will want to help raise awareness.

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