Escape from Camp 14: No Escape from Reality
Wow…that’s the only word that comes to mind, yet a highly inadequate word when it comes to describing the harsh reality of Camp 14 and how North Korea values human life. It’s appalling and heart wrenching. Yet, when you read Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden you can hardly cry.
If you haven’t heard about this one—it’s a real story and it’s a raw story. The entire piece documents the story of Shin In Geun, an innocent child who was born into a North Korean labor camp for prisoners who’s families had wronged the regime. If anybody thinks they’ve had a less than ideal start to life, they won’t feel that way after they read this. The start of the book actually sums up the mentality of North Korea best with this quote:
“There is no ‘human rights issue’ in this country, as everyone leads the most dignified and happy life.”
~North Korean Central News Agency, March 6, 2009
Have you ever heard of a propaganda machine? That type of quote is what they exemplify—“No, no, that is wrong. Everything is peachy keen here.” Guess what? Nothing is peachy keen there unless you are one of the 100,000ish people of nearly 40 million that have managed to remain among the everlasting butt kissers to the North Korean government clan. It’s big enough that you can best compare it to this: If you had a brother who took an ear of corn from a rice field you’d be condemned for life for being from bad stock. Okay, maybe not for life, but for three generations minimum until the tainted blood was diffused.
Out of the massive amounts of people that are sent to or born in one of the these camps they learn nothing about the real world and what it is all about. They don’t even know that China borders them or another Korea that is considerably more compassionate when it comes to valuing them at all.
Can you imagine a young boy sending their mother and older brother to the executioner without feeling any remorse or even having a doubt about it? That’s what happened to Shin In Geun. He’d been raised to know no differently—fend for your own, survival of the fittest, and all of those mentalities that make people justify that whatever they do to get what they want is okay. After all, that’s just the way it is.
I cry a lot when I read stories and this story, as intensely emotional and sad as it was, didn’t make me cry at all. Why? Certainly not because it’s not heart wrenching. I didn’t cry because I was able to dive into the lack of emotion that Shin In Geun had to live his life in. I think that his author, Blain Harden, is one of the strongest men I’ve ever read. He had to work for this story and to get real information so he could tell it in its true light. That surely was no easy endeavor. For a woman who loves fantasy, fiction, and action/adventure, this story is almost too much to mention; not because I doubt its reality, but because it makes me angry that North Korea isn’t a bigger cause for places such as the United Nations. I know what they’re doing, but what are they thinking?
The last thing I want to do is give away the ending, but the title implies it so I don’t feel bad doing so. The best news about this dire real life story is that Shin In Geun was gutsy, brave, and completely smart, despite the efforts to suppress him. That allowed him to break away from Camp 14 and slowly make his way to a truly amazing country—The United States of America. This is important for one reason: If you think you have it bad it’s time to stop the whining and realize what other people go through each and every given day.
If you’re feeling like your life lacks some appreciation, I hope that you’ll all give a few hours of your life to reading Escape from Camp 14. If this story doesn’t touch your heart, as well as your humanity, then you are living in your own version of North Korea’s disgusting and vile Camp 14.