North Korean Survivor Shin Dong-Hyuk

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Little is known about the prison camps of North Korea where it is estimated that 200,000 are imprisoned. Many are born in the camps and generations of families are imprisoned because one of their relatives has been detained.

Shin Dong-Hyuk is one such case. He was born 26 years ago in Camp 14 in Pyeongan province, known as a ‘complete control district’, where the only sentence is life.

For most of his life all he knew was the camp, working 12 to 15-hour days mining coal, building dams or sewing military uniforms. If inmates were not executed they were killed in work-related accidents or died of an illness usually triggered by hunger.

In his own words Shin Dong-hyuk tells us about life inside one of North Korea’s notorious political prison camps, how he was tortured and how he was forced to watch his mother’s and brother’s execution.

But after the execution of his mother and brother, Shin Dong-Hyuk decided to try and escape. No one born into a North Korean prison camp has ever escaped before.

Shin escaped from the camp, leaving his father behind, in 2005. Now, he lives a new life in South Korea having discarded his original name Shin In Keun. A message to his father

Watch Anderson Cooper interview with Shin Dong-Hyuk


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This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

One thought on “North Korean Survivor Shin Dong-Hyuk

  1. Grant Montgomery on said:

    Helping Hands Korea (HHK) has carried out its work of helping North Korean refugees for the past 16 years. HHK’s director Tim Peters was part of an activist team that traveled with Shin Dong-hyuk to the UK when Shin gave his testimony to the UK Parliament and major British media. A second trip was made not long after to Denmark. Read more at

4 references to “North Korean Survivor Shin Dong-Hyuk

  1. […] is in the past, but it is still very much a reality. It is still going on in North Korea,” Shin Dong-hyuk told AFP through an interpreter on the sidelines of a human rights summit in […]

  2. […] Shin Dong-hyuk has brought new insights into the secretive camps.  Shin, 30, is the only man known to have been born and to escape from a North Korean prison known as Camp 14. He was born in a “total control zone” where prison authorities wield complete power, where guards beat children to death with no hesitation. […]

  3. […] Read more This entry was posted in Humanitarian Aid and Relief, North Korean refugee, Prison Camps by Grant Montgomery. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  4. […] Friday, Jan. 16, I learned that Shin Dong-hyuk, the North Korean prison camp survivor who is the subject of ‘Escape from Camp 14,’ had told […]

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