Escape to the outside world

Child born in a secret labour camp tells of torture and beatings – Times Online.

I was very moved to read this story (above) today. Shin Dong Hyuk was born and raised in a North Korean labour camp until he escaped in 2005. Ever since his birth, Mr Shin was taught that his parents were criminals, he was tortured because, he was told, of their sins. He therefore grew up to hate them. When he was 12, his mother and brother were killed in front of him for trying to escape, and he was tortured further for this. He was thrown into a cell with an old man, who nursed him back to health– it was the first kindness Shin had experienced in his life. There were 60,000 inmates in the camp, who knew nothing of the outside world, including their own country. In 2004, Mr Shin befriended an inmate who had escaped to China but who had been recaptured, and from him he learned about the world beyond the camp. In 2005, he himself escaped. The Times writes: "Human rights groups estimate that as many as 200,000 political prisoners suffer in secret labour camps in North Korea’s mountains. Mr Shin is the first person who was born and raised in a camp to make it to South Korea."

There are some even more harrowing details about Mr Shin’s ordeal on ABC news, here. In writing this post, I have seen many tens of (apparently identical, as wire) news stories on the topic, several of them referring to a recently published book by Mr Shin about his experiences, with the title Escape to the Outside World. I can’t find any listing of the book on Amazon or anywhere else though, so either it doesn’t exist yet or we need Dave Lull (or both).