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

Books on Tape. Jan. 2024. 5:44 hrs. ISBN 9780593869543. $57. HIST
Former Washington Post correspondent Harden (Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent) narrates his biography of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only recorded person to have escaped North Korea’s notorious prison labor camps. Although the North Korean government denies their existence, satellite photos provide proof of the camps, which house between 150,000 and 200,000 political prisoners. Shin was born in 1982 in Camp 14. He was raised to be an informant for the guards and saw his own family, including his mother and brother, as competition for food and resources. At a young age, he witnessed their executions, precipitated by information that he provided about their planned escape. Harden provides a straightforward narration as he describes Shin’s escape and the aftermath that followed. Shin’s troubles continued even after his escape, as it was then that he learned about the world outside of North Korea and came to a new understanding of himself and his history. This updated version of a book that Harden originally published in 2012 reveals previously unreleased information about Shin’s experiences.
VERDICT Harden’s stunning account of Shin’s life reflects the courage and strength of one man who escaped brutal captivity in hopes of a better life.
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