“Escape from Camp 14” is a book about Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean slave labor camp and lived to escape.
Competition for food in the camp was so intense that a child was beaten to death for having stolen five kernels of corn.
Shin viewed his mother merely as a competitor for food. He had experienced no love from her and so, when he betrayed her for trying to escape–an act that resulted in the execution of his mother and brother, which he witnessed–Shin felt no remorse until he escaped and came to the West.
The work was backbreaking and people like Shin accepted that their lives would be brief and painful–and full of hunger.
The book brings out that the North Korean leadership developed a theory based on bloodlines that contributes to keeping North Koreans in submision. According to this thinking, Shin deserved to be a slave laborer because he had a bad bloodline–i.e., his father had been deemed insufficiently loyal to the regime.
Shin’s escape came about almost as happenstance. He met another prisoner in solitary confinement who had been a government official, and who was desperate to escape to China, a country of which Shin was ignorant. When the time came, the older man was electrocuted and Shin walked over his body to freedom.
[The abovementioned book, “Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West”, is written by Blaine Hardin, a former Washington Post reporter]