A brutal North Korean prison camp was all that Shin Dong-hyuk knew for the first 23 years of his life. CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, after interviewing him, said, “Shin Dong-hyuk isn’t just somebody who was sent to a concentration camp. This is somebody who was born into a concentration camp. And for the majority of his life up until he was probably 22 or 23, had no idea that there was another kind of way to exist.”
Anderson Cooper: Growing up, did you ever think about escaping?
Shin Dong-hyuk: That never crossed my mind.
Anderson Cooper: It never crossed your mind?
Shin Dong-hyuk: No. Never. What I thought was that the society outside the camp would be similar to that inside the camp.
Anderson Cooper: You thought everybody lived in a prison camp like this?
Shin Dong-hyuk: Yes.
Anderson Cooper: Did anybody ever explain to you why you were in a camp?
Shin Dong-hyuk: No. Never. Because I was born there I just thought that those people who carry guns were born to carry guns. And prisoners like me were born as prisoners.
Anderson Cooper: Did you know America existed?
Shin Dong-hyuk: Not at all.
Anderson Cooper: Did you know that the world was round?
Shin Dong-hyuk: I had no idea if it was round or square.